The U.S. Air Force conducted its first testing exercise with an E-7 Wedgetail, the Boeing Co. aircraft now used by Australia’s military that will begin to replace retiring E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System planes this decade.
The E-7A Wedgetail provides Australia with one of the most advanced airspace battle management capabilities in the world.
The Wedgetail’s participation in the Black Flag exercise, held at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada from May 9th to 13th, could help the service devise new tactics and capabilities for using it once it joins the service’s fleet.
The E-7 consists of a Boeing 737-700 airframe, with the addition of a Northrop-Grumman produced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. This radar, which is fixed unlike the rotating radome of the E-3 Sentry (AWACS), has 360 degree capability with a 200+ nautical mile range in all weather conditions. The Australian air force deployed its Wedgetails to the Middle East for Operation Okra in support of the coalition fight against ISIS.
Black Flag is a combined series of large-scale test events conducted by the 53rd Wing at Nellis that focuses on operational test and tactics development. Tests conducted there help the Air Force find new capabilities and ways for fighters, bombers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and other programs to work together. This is done by realistically simulating combat with massed forces in a high-threat environment.
The Air Force said in a May 20 release that the Black Flag event is necessary to ensure all U.S. military services and allied partners would be ready to work together immediately if a conflict were to erupt.
The E-7 Wedgetail is the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platform, having proven itself in operations around the world. The aircraft is designed to track multiple airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
The Wedgetail is the most effective in the world today as an airborne Command and Control center with radar capability to see low profile, low heat cruise missiles at extensive ranges, enabling cross-domain tracking to warn and effectors to negate. Australia, South Korea, and Turkey have them in service today.
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