as a key element of the coalition’s air battle plan in the fight against ISIS,” said Group Capt. Stuart Bellingham, officer commanding of No. 42 Wing. Peter Krieg, Operations and Field Services Representative manager for the Wedgetail program, added that the performance of the aircraft has been so good that a number of coalition forces prefer to be airborne when the Wedgetail team is on-station. The Wedgetail routinely flies missions lasting more than 12 hours in support of Operation OKRA, part of the multinational fight against the Islamic State. Additionally, the aircraft has flown other sorties above the Middle East and search and rescue 28 | BOEING FRONTIERS missions during the past two years with the Royal Australian Air Force. “The customer is proud of the Wedgetail’s capabilities and has built up an excellent reputation with both U.S. and coalition forces” in the Middle East, Krieg said. Wedgetail was deployed by the RAAF to assist the military fight over Syria and Iraq and has spent notable hours in the air as part of its mission. In early 2015, the single deployed aircraft completed—with the assistance of midair refueling—a continuous flight of 16 hours 18 minutes. By the end of last year, it surpassed that milestone with a 17-hour mission flight. Polly Ringoen, program management specialist with Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s Airborne Surveillance Command & Control, said that is the 737 platform’s longest nonstop flight ever; officials supporting the 737 and its military derivative programs do not dispute that. Boeing’s Wedgetail AEW&C fleet with the Australian air force achieved final operational capability in May 2015. In announcing that milestone, the RAAF stated that the aircraft “has already proved to be highly reliable and effective on operations and this achievement will further Australia’s capabilities.” From the start of the program, Boeing aimed high to meet the Royal Australian Air Force’s demand for next-generation airborne surveillance, command and control capabilities, according to program officials.
Frontiers April 2016 Issue
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