Boeing

Sky Patrol: Australia’s Wedgetail Fleet Earns Rave Reviews

Now combat-proven, the aircraft ‘continues to excel’

April 14, 2016 in Defense

An E-7A Wedgetail aircraft with the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 2 Squadron soars through the clouds on a training sortie.

RAAF

It’s the kind of military mission tailor-made for a Wedgetail.

In the skies above Iraq and Syria, jet fighters and other military aircraft belonging to several nations are actively patrolling and fighting ISIS ground forces. Communication and coordination among aircraft is critical.

Enter Boeing’s Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail, which is helping make aircrews safer in those crowded skies, and helping the U.S. and coalition forces take the fight to ISIS.

Named for Australia’s largest bird of prey, the wedge-tailed eagle, and operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft is getting rave reviews.

“The E-7A Wedgetail is now a combat-proven capability. It continues to excel on operations 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 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.”

Read the full story in the April issue of Boeing Frontiers.