The first E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft was delivered to Australia in 2009 and began operations in 2010. A total of six aircraft have been delivered to Australia.
The E-7A Wedgetail represents an entirely new capability for the ADF, providing a platform that will gather information from a wide variety of sources, analyse it and distribute it to all friendly air and surface assets. AEW&C aircraft can control the tactical battle space, providing direction for fighter aircraft, surface combatants and land based elements, as well as supporting aircraft such as tankers and intelligence platforms.
Based on the 737-700 commercial airliner airframe, the E-7A features advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles that are able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
AEW&C aircraft elevate the radar 10,000 metres above the earth’s surface so that the radar can ‘see’ everything out to a range of hundreds of kilometres. Low flying aircraft can no longer ‘sneak up’ by approaching below the radar horizon.
An E-7A Wedgetail cruising at an altitude of 10,000 metres can maintain surveillance over a surface area of 400,000 square kilometres at any given time. Over a 10-hour mission, the Wedgetail could cover over four million square kilometres.
The E-7A Wedgetail is therefore a major new capability for the Australian Defence Force, which will significantly multiply the effectiveness of our existing Navy, Army, Air Force and Coastwatch, and help Australia maintain a capability edge well into the future. The E-7A Wedgetail is truly the “Eyes of the Nation”.
The E-7A Wedgetail aircraft are operated by No 2 Squadron from RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle.
Initial Operational Capability for the E-7A Wedgetail platform was announced in November 2012, and Final Operational Capability for the Wedgetail fleet is planned for late 2013.