The federal government has signed a head agreement with Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) that consolidates further works for the Royal Australian Air Force’s E-7A Wedgetail fleet.
The agreement integrates $1.5 billion in current contracts into a flexible overarching framework for the program and supports 600 jobs and work across 200 local suppliers.
Defence minister, Christopher Pyne, said that the new contracting framework will further improve the partnership between Defence and BDA for current and future BDA work and capability upgrades through the life of the Wedgetail fleet.
“The Boeing-built Wedgetail was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force and provides airborne surveillance, communications and battle management systems,” Pyne said
“This important agreement will simplify and make more efficient the contract arrangements that support this world leading capability.”
Under the new framework, the in service support contract (ISSC) through which the Wedgetail is sustained has also been extended to 2025.
Defence industry minister, Steven Ciobo, said this was an important step in meeting defence reform priorities whilst maintaining the strategically important E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control capability.
“The extension to the ISSC will allow BDA to deliver long-term value-for-money Wedgetail sustainment services to defence and see continued growth in Australian industry content, particularly in systems and software engineering,” said Ciobo.
Darren Edwards, Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director, said that the head agreement was testament to the proven success of the program for the aircraft’s delivery.
“The fleet sustainment and upgrades that will be delivered under this agreement will ensure the Wedgetail remains the centrepiece of Australia’s national air defence capability and a critical asset for the RAAF,” Edwards said.
BDA was awarded the $582.5 million contract to upgrade the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft with advanced combat identification sensors, tactical data links, and communication and encryption systems in July 2017.
The E-7A Wedgetail is based on a Boeing 737-700, with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.