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Australia receives Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft

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The Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft.

NEW CASTLE (BNS): After a long delay of over four years, the Royal Australian Air Force on Wednesday officially accepted its first two Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft from US defence major Boeing.

The aircraft arrived at the RAAF base Williamtown in Newcastle with Minister for Defence Material and Science Greg Combet accepting the “long-awaited” aircraft, the Defence Department said.

“The Wedgetail project has suffered problems, especially in regards to schedule, and has been on the Government's ‘projects of concern’ list.

“Over a decade since the project first started it is finally now ready to be used for Air Force training,” Combet said.

Australia had signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Boeing to acquire six Wedgetail aircraft which were slated to be delivered in 2006. However, technical problems pushed their delivery way behind schedule.

Three more Wedgetails are expected to be delivered to RAAF later this year and the final one by early next year, The Australian newspaper said.

Based on Boeing’s 737-700 commercial airplane, the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with an advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles that are able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.

The mission crew can direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.

Australia is the first customer of the Wedgetail aircraft.

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