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'World-First' Test of Airborne Early Warning Radar

Monday, 16 January 2006

Successful 'World-First' Test of Airborne Early Warning Radar

An Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft that will soon provide Australia with leading-edge air and maritime surveillance has successfully conducted a 'world first' 360 degree scanning with an airborne phased array radar.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the airborne test of the radar, carried out by the combined Boeing and Defence Materiel Organisation AEW&C project team based in the USA, lasted more than three hours and operated trouble-free.

"This is a fantastic achievement for the project team. One of the unique features of this radar is that it can scan through 360 degrees with no moving parts, where other phased array systems can only scan through 240 degrees," Senator Hill said.

"The Boeing 737 Wedgetail aircraft will provide a significant boost to Australia's combat capability. It will have far more flexibility and capability than other similar platforms in service today, and this latest test is further proof of its capabilities."

Meanwhile a 737 aircraft simulator has been installed and commissioned at RAAF Base Williamtown before for the arrival of the first Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft next year.

Senator Hill said the pilot training simulator, commissioned as a Boeing 737 simulator, will be evolved over the next 6 months into the Wedgetail configuration to allow the completion of training before the first aircraft is officially handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force in November 2006.

The RAAF's No 2 Squadron based at Williamtown near Newcastle will fly the AEW&C Wedgetail when it becomes operational.

The Wedgetail is based on Boeing's next generation 737 aircraft, which is being modified to accommodate various sophisticated mission systems and radar.

Australia will acquire six aircraft and associated support and systems, with significant support by Australian industry. Importantly, the last four aircraft will be modified by Australian industry at Boeing Australia's facilities in Amberley, southern Queensland.


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