will be the Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Airborne Early Warning and Control component (AEW&C) of Australia's force projection. The Wedgetail is based on the 737-700 IGW platform with Boeing as the prime contractor in the project. The radar system is from Northrop-Grumman, while locally, BAE System Australia, Boeing Australia and Qantas Defence Systems are also involved.
The contracts and projects Boeing has been involved in with the USAF have come under congressional and media scrutiny recently. This is due to the inappropriate manner in which several of this projects were sought, priced and inflated. This has not been the case with the Wedgetail project. The project is under-budget, on-time and by the RAAF's determination, an extremely well managed project. The Wedgetail has also spawned interest from other nations that are seeking regional power projection; including Turkey, Korea and Italy.
Australia still has no AEW&C; system at its disposal, and is entirely reliant upon the United States for this capability. Australia has committed $3.4 billion for six Wedgetails to be delivered between 2006 and 2008. The first of this production line is already flying
and being tested in the United State. In addition Australian industry is expected to be involved with $400 million of the project
. The Boeing website explains the systems and capabilities of the Wedgetail
The AEW&C; system combines the new high-performance Boeing 737-700 IGW aircraft with the Northrop Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. Included in the platform are an advanced identification friend or foe (IFF) system; an expanded, passive surveillance system; a flexible, open-system architecture and a highly effective self-defense capability. The 737-700 features state-of-the-art avionics, navigation equipment and flight deck. It has a maximum speed of .78 Mach and an operational ceiling of 41,000 feet.
The Wedgetail's name comes from the radar wedge on the rear of the aircraft. This is from Northrop Grumman's MESA technologies which can track air and sea targets simultaneously. The radar also does not have a sweep, so the objects being tracked do not "jump" on the screen. The Wiki entry describes the the radar's capability
The radar is located on a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage, dubbed the "top hat", and is designed for minimal aerodynamic effect. The radar is capable of simultaneous air and sea search, fighter control and area search. Other modifications include ventral fins to counterbalance the radar and countermeasures mounted on the nose, wingtips and tail. The cabin features 8 operator consoles with sufficient space for 4 more, the Australian fleet will operate 10 consoles with space for 2 more.
The contract included the options for three other aircraft above the initial order of four. Since the radar systems and mission equipment were paid for in the original contract, adding additional aircraft was quite cheap by defence procurement standards. The AEW&Cs; are also very important force multipliers that dramatically increase the effectiveness of forward assets. Consequently Australia took the options for two more, bringing the Australian fleet to six.
The question needs to be asked why the option on a third was not taken. Since Australia's fleet is quite small, and the importance of the AEW&C; as a force multiplier to the Australian Defence Force (ADF); adding a seventh AEW&C; system would have increased the ADF's effectiveness considerably.
Reforming No.2 Squadron RAAF
No.2 Squadron has been reformed specifically for the Wedgetails. The squadron headquarters is currently at Williamtown in NSW. The Australian government has invested $149 million into Williamtown to support the needs of the Wedgetails. No.2's history can be traced back to the Australian Flying Corps when it was formed in the Middle East. The squadron flew DH5 and SE5a aircraft in the skies of France.
The squadron found itself in the bomber role in World War II, flying Lockheed Hudson's and B25's in the South Pacific. The squadron was later equipped with the Australian built GAF Lincolns, large four engined bombers armed with 20mm cannon. These were used in the Malayan Emergency. The squadron was later equipped with GAF Canberras and deployed to Vietnam. With the retirement of the Canberra, the squadron was disbanded as No.1 Squadron and No.6 Squadron, armed with the F111 provided the RAAF's strike and bomber capabilities.
Innovative RAAF RFP's
The 737-700 IGW Wedgetail is not the first Australian defence RFP that has led to an innovative result. It also not the first Australian initiated project that was used by other forces facing a similar situation. In 1926, Richard Williams was faced with equipping a seaplane carrier, HMAS Albatross
, with aircraft - aircraft which the RAAF did not have. Williams, along with H.C. Harisson drew up an RFP for an amphibian aircraft that solved this need.
Supermarine was part of Vickers in the 1930's and rose to the challenge; requesting that the wings be wood and fabric rather than metal. After failing an initial catapult test, the Supermarine Walrus was operationally tested on HMS Nelson
. Williams ordered twenty-four for Australia, the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Air Force (RAF) ordered approximately seven hundred and eighty.
The Wedgetail project has raised interest with South Korea, Turkey and Italy. This raises the point that Australia is not alone in its regional projection and technology needs. The United States and Britain have moved to global projection - Australia's more modest needs are popular with other nations seeking only regional projection.
There is an opportunity here for Australian defence industries, but it will require the political will as well as funding from the Australian Government and Australian Defence Force. One of Richard Williams' innovative insights was that Australian solutions to Australian problems are superior. The Australian Government would do well to heed that philosophy.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.