Australia’s Troubled E-7A “Wedgetail” AWACS Program
July 7/17: Australia has contracted Boeing to carry out upgrades to the early-warning and control capabilities of its fleet of E-7A Wedgetail aircraft. Valued at $442.4 million, the aircraft will be fitted with new sensors as well as tactical data links, and communication and encryption systems. The project will be completed by mid-2022. Wedgetail aircraft are configured Boeing 737-700, with the addition of advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and 10 mission crew consoles. Australia currently has the aircraft deployed to the Middle East region as part of its contribution to the fight against the Islamic State.
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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