Australia’s first Wedgetail (A30-001) completed its maiden flight in the United States (US civil registration N378BC)

20 May 2004

The Boeing E-7A Wedgetail was Australia’s solution for an Airborne Early Warning and Control system. It provides an air defence system that enables surveillance, air defence, force coordination and fleet support. An order for four Boeing Wedgetails was placed in December 2000, with an order for an additional two in April 2004. Based on the venerable Boeing 737 airframe, the first two were modified in the USA to meet the requirements of the RAAF; the remainder were modified in Australia. The inability of the initial radars to meet expectations greatly delayed the acceptance of the aircraft by the RAAF.

The first public appearance of a RAAF Wedgetail was at the Avalon International Airshow in 2005, however, it did not begin its operational service with No 2 Squadron until 2008. The final two Wedgetail aircraft were delivered in 2015.

The Wedgetail enables RAAF to control an area of four million square kilometres for over ten hours from the air. Whilst flying over Iraq and Syria in 2014, a RAAF Wedgetail completed a seventeen hour mission (refuelling air-to-air), creating a world record for the Boeing 737 type.

The RAAF plans to utilise the Wedgetail until the late 2030s, anticipating the need to evolve as technology advances.

To learn more, download this extract from Aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force by David Richardson and Peter Wood.

Related aircraft

  • Wedgetail