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Australia announces $582m Wedgetail investment
RAAF E-7A Wedgetail. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Australia announces $582m Wedgetail investment

The Australian Government is upgrading the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The Australian Government has announced plans to upgrade the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control capability. The RAAF operates six Wedgetails, the first of which was delivered in 2009.

The $582.5m upgrade for the E-7, which uses the Northrop Grumman Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar mounted on top of the fuselage, is expected to be completed by mid-2022. Between $200 and $240m will flow to Australian industry, creating 165 highly skilled jobs across the country. 

Defence Minister Marise Pyne said the aircraft will be upgraded with new and more advanced combat identification sensors, tactical data links and communication and encryption systems. The upgrades are needed to ensure continued interoperability with Australian allies including the U.S. and NATO members. 

The Wedgetail is currently deployed to the Middle East region as part of Australia’s contribution to the fight against Islamic State. Over 350 missions have been completed with more than 4,400 flying hours.

The E-7 is also operated by Turkey and South Korea.

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