Australia’s Defence Materiel Organization awarded Boeing Defense Australia a five-year contract extension valued at AUD $901 million ($819 million) to maintain Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. Nearly half, or AUD $443 million, of the money will be spent in Australia, Defense Minister David Johnston said.
“This is a significant outcome for the Wedgetail program and for the 290 industry staff employed directly on Wedgetail support in the Newcastle, Brisbane/Ipswich and Adelaide regions,” stated Johnston in the March 17 announcement. “Extending this contract maintains Australian industry’s involvement and leadership in the sustainment of the Wedgetail capability.”
The E-7A is based on the Boeing 737-700 and is outfitted with the Northrop Grumman multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) for air and maritime surface surveillance. BAE Systems Australia developed the aircraft’s integrated electronic support measures and electronic warfare self-protection system. The air force’s 2 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales operates six Wedgetails, full flight and operational mission simulators, a software development and test laboratory and maintenance facilities.
Boeing Defense Australia has supported the Wedgetail AEW&C program since 2010, just after the first aircraft arrived in Australia. The company said it took over prime support responsibility last July. Under the contract extension, it will continue to provide program management, supply-chain management, engineering and maintenance services “until at least 2019,” with the potential for annual contract extensions. “On-aircraft deeper maintenance and training services will continue to at least 2016 when Defence intends to market-test these services.”