Australia delays Wedgetail follow-on

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Australia is deferring a decision on acquiring additional Boeing Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. Negotiations are under way to extend options for an initial two extra platforms that had been due to expire on 30 June. Australian Defence Materiel Organisation head of airborne surveillance projects Air Vice Marshal Norm Gray told Senate budget hearings earlier this month that Boeing has agreed to a 12-month extension. Australia placed a four-aircraft launch order for the Boeing 737-based AEW&C platform at the end of 2000. The deal included options for an additional three Wedgetails. At that time, Australia purchased six mission systems to reduce the cost of exercising the initial option.