Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) has been awarded a contract modification to continue provision of support services for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft fleet.
Until recently, the E-7A Wedgetail in-service support performance-based logistics (PBL) was being executed by BDA’s parent company, Boeing in the US.
Under the $140m contract, the company will partner with other Boeing organisations to ensure a continued high level of readiness for RAAF’s command and control aircraft fleet.
Specific services to be provided by the company include engineering, maintenance, spare parts and training support.
Boeing Integrated Logistics vice-president and general manager Shelley Lavender said, ”This change effectively combines Boeing’s knowledge as the original equipment manufacturer with a talented Australian team dedicated to providing the Royal Australian Air Force with low-risk, cost-efficient support for the E-7A Wedgetail.”
Defence Materiel Organisation Aerospace Systems Division head air vice marshal Colin Thorne said the contract award represents a significant step in maturation of local industry to support this important strategic capability.
”The six Wedgetail aircraft provide the Australian Defence Force with an enhanced airborne surveillance and control capability to detect aircraft at extended ranges,” Thorne said.
The E-7A Wedgetail is a modified Boeing 737-700 commercial aircraft, featuring advanced multi-role electronically scanned radar and ten mission crew consoles for simultaneous tracking of airborne and maritime targets.
The aircraft also enables air crew to direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.
Six Wedgetail aircraft were ordered by RAAF from Boeing at a cost of A$3.45bn ($3.56bn) under Project AIR 5077 in December 2009.
Operated by No 2 Squadron personnel from RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, the aircraft achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in November 2012, and are currently awaiting declaration of final operational capability (FOC).
Image: A RAAF’s E-7A Wedgetail aircraft being refuelled during the Rim of the Pacific exercise near Hawaii, US. Photo: courtesy of USAF Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson.