Australia has given Boeing a five-year contract to support the country's Boeing 737-based Wedgetail airborne early warning and control system aircraft.

Boeing says it will provide acquisition programme management, integration and engineering services under the terms of its $600 million deal.

The US manufacturer's local subsidiary, Boeing Australia, "will support the programme with engineering, maintenance and training services and supply chain management for the Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of six Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft and ground segments", it says.

"Northrop Grumman, as a subcontractor on the Boeing-led programme, will support the aircraft's multi-role electronically scanned array radar," it adds.

Royal Australian Air Force Boeing 737 wedgetail
 © Boeing

Australia ordered six Wedgetails and formally received its first two aircraft in November 2009. Flown from RAAF Williamtown in New South Wales, the assets are being used to support training activities with the new type.

Australia's first two Wedgetail airframes were respectively modified for the AEW role in Seattle, Washington, and by Boeing Defence Australia at RAAF Amberley in southern Queensland.

Of the remaining four aircraft to be delivered, one is to be modified in Seattle, and the remainder in Australia, the nation's Department of Defence says.

"Delivery of all [remaining] Wedgetail aircraft and supplies will occur progressively over the next 18 months," it adds.

Delivery of the RAAF's new AEW&C capability has been the subject of lengthy delay, due to development issues with equipment including the Wedgetail system's MESA radar and electronic warfare kit.

Boeing has also secured orders for 737-based AEW aircraft from South Korea and Turkey.

Source: Flight International