Boeing [BA] recently announced that Australia has accepted the first two Project Wedgetail 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet.
“This major milestone demonstrates that the 737 AEW&C system is ready for operational training and use. It also represents the culmination of years of design, development, modification and testing by the Boeing-led team to bring this complex system–the first of its type–to our first AEW&C customer,” said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president, AEW&C Program.
Acceptance of the two Wedgetail aircraft means ground and flight operations and maintenance of the aircraft are now fully under RAAF control. Boeing delivered the two aircraft last year and has been supporting RAAF familiarization training on the AEW&C system, which includes the aircraft as well as the Operational Flight Trainer, Operational Mission Simulator and Mission Support System.
Boeing will deliver three more Wedgetail aircraft to the RAAF by the end of this year, including one upgraded in the final AEW&C configuration with Electronic Support Measures. All aircraft in the Wedgetail fleet will be upgraded to the final configuration in early 2011.
Project Wedgetail includes six 737 AEW&C aircraft, plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. Based on the Boeing Next- Generation 737-700 commercial airplane, the 737 AEW&C aircraft is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with an advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles that are able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously. The mission crew can direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.
Boeing also has AEW&C systems in production for Turkey and the Republic of Korea.