Canberra’s six Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft have achieved final operational capability (FOC).
In a statement, Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) says that the aircraft has proven effective during missions supporting Operation Okra – Australia’s contribution to the fight against Islamic State militants – with over 100 sorties amounting to 1,200 hours.
It also says the 737-based AEW&C platform provided a valuable contribution in support of search efforts for MH370, a Malaysia Airlines 777 that is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean in March 2014.
“The aircraft’s advanced multi-role radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and coordinate a joint air, sea and land operations in real time,” says AVM Gavin Davies.
“As we transition into a more technologically advanced force as part of Plan Jericho, the Wedgetail will be able to support future aircraft and surveillance systems.”
'Plan Jericho' is a RAAF programme aimed at fostering improved communications between assets.
Separately, the DoD has demonstrated a new satellite system installed aboard one of the nation’s C-17A strategic airlifters, which allowed for the streaming of full motion video from a Israel Aerospace Industries Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying 2,000km away. The video was accessible by both the aircraft’s crew and passengers.
Australia’s DoD says such a capability would serve a number of roles. In a war it could be used to view enemy positions, while in peacetime it would help crews assess areas struck by national disasters.
Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that the RAAF operates six C-17As, with two additional examples on order.