Australia’s Troubled E-7A “Wedgetail” AWACS Program
July 30/19: UK UK’s Marshall Aerospace signed a contract with Boeing to start work for the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) program. Marshall is responsible for the conversion and delivery of the new fleet. The program has Marshall turn 737 Next-Generation aircraft into E-7s, including adding the Northrop Grumman multi-role Electronically Scanned Array surveillance radar, communication and mission computer systems. The E-7 is a twin-engine airborne early warning and control aircraft. The aircraft was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force. The Wedgetail can control the tactical battle space, providing direction for fighter aircraft, surface combatants and land based elements, as well as supporting aircraft such as tankers and intelligence platforms.
The island continent of Australia faces a number of unique security challenges that stem from its geography. The continent may be separated from its neighbors by large expanses of ocean, but it also resides within a potential arc of instability, and has a number of important offshore resource sites to protect. Full awareness of what is going on around them, and the ability to push that awareness well offshore, are critical security requirements.
“Project Wedgetail” had 3 finalists, and the winner was a new variant of Boeing’s 737-700, fitted with an MESA (multirole electronically scanned array) radar from Northrop Grumman. That radar exchanges the traditional AWACS rotating dome for the E-7A’s “top hat” stationary antenna. That design, and the project as a whole, have run into severe turbulence, creating problems for Boeing earnings, the ADF, and other export orders for the type. DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This one covers contracts, events, and key milestones within Australia’s E-7A program, from inception to the current day.
Project Wedgetail: Program and Participants
Program & Industrial Team
Contracts & Key Events
2011 – 2013
2009 – 2010
2007 – 2008
2005 – 2006
2003 – 2004
2001 – 2002
2000 and Earlier
News & Views
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