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Australia announces upgrades to air force fleet

Staff Writer |
The Australian government on Wednesday announced plans for a 582.5- million-Australian dollar ($443.5 million) upgrade for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)'s fleet of six E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

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In a media release, the nation's Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the Wedgetail was one of the most advanced pieces of technology within the RAAF, and that the upgrades to the early warning and control capability would maintain Australia's dominance in the air.

"The Wedgetail is a modified Boeing 737-700, with the addition of advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and 10 mission crew consoles. It is one of the most advanced pieces of aerospace technology in the Australian Defence Force," Pyne said.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said RAAF Wedgetails had been involved in a number of important missions in recent years, including in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as well as sortie missions in the Middle East.

"The upgrades are an important step in maintaining a potent Australia air combat force and will ensure continued interoperability with Australian allies including the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members," Payne said.

The upgrades are expected to be completed by 2022 and are expected to crease up to 165 "highly skilled jobs" across the country.

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