Exercise Arnhem Thunder saw Royal Air Force personnel fill key positions on Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The Royal Australian Air Force say that those positions included aircraft captain and senior surveillance and control officer, the two most senior roles on board.

“But this mixed nationality situation wasn’t unique to Arnhem Thunder. RAF personnel have been on exchange with No. 2 Squadron (2SQN) for the past few years, gaining valuable experience on Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail in preparation for the introduction of a UK variant.

This knowledge sharing arrangement is reflective of the deep importance and enduring nature of the defence relationship that exists between Australia and the United Kingdom.”

You can read more from the Royal Australian Air Force on this here.

The UK’s E-7 aircraft (the order cut from 5 to 3) are due to be delivered from 2023, and will be operated by No. 8 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Wedgetail is an airborne early warning and control system, commonly known as AWACs or AEW&C.

They are designed to track multiple targets at sea or in the air over a considerable area for long periods of time.

This aircraft is replacing the E-3D Sentry, pictured below.

FILE PHOTO: E-3D Sentry
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
40 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John N
John N
3 months ago

Bloody hell! We’re not letting you bloody Poms loose on our E-7A Wedgetails are we?? Be careful, ok?

By the way, here‘s a bit of video that was released a few days ago regarding Exercise Arnhem Thunder:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p1KMzMtEh1Q

Cheers,

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Thanks! You guys have got a great Air Force there! Well done!

John N
John N
3 months ago

The RAAF has been fortunate over the last decade or so, the Oz Government has provided plenty of funding to allow for the replacement and upgrade of most of the fleet.

Up to 2030 there is another approx $65 billion for more hardware procurement:

https://www1.defence.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-11/Factsheet_Air.pdf

And recently two additional P-8As were ordered, one item not on the list is the replacement of the BAE Hawk 127 fleet which is due to start in the mid 2020s.

Cheers,

andrew
andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

love those Growlers – dropping ordinance on an active cell phone is amazing!

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  andrew

Yes the EA-18G is an impressive capability, and will be even more so with the eventual introduction of the Next Gen Jamming pods that the RAAF is partnering with the USN in their development of.

Apart from continued funding for enhanced Growler capabilities, the Oz Government has also budgeted up to $11.4 billion for a future Growler replacement too.

Airborne Electronic Warfare capabilities are going to become even more important in the years and decades ahead.

Cheers,

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Got to say over the last few years the Ozzies have really been getting their shit together and taking defence procurement and planning seriously. Good job all round.

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Mate, yes us Aussies (not Ozzies) have been doing good with Defence procurement and budgets too. This coming financial year, 2021-22, Defence spending is $44.6 Billion, and is planned to continue increasing year on year for at least the next ten years (fortunately there is a good level of bipartisan support from both major political parties too). The RAAF has been very good at putting its case forward to Government and has got what it has needed, just about every aircraft type has been replaced since 2000, or is in the process of being replaced. We might not have the… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Yes sorry about that mate that was auto correct, god knows how !!!! But very impressive attitude all round and a decent capable and balanced force is planned! And up for a ruck and that is what counts! Cheers John.

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

No worries mate, was just about to call you a ‘pommy bastard’ but I resisted! Ha ha! Here’s a question for you, I often here about UK defence spending ‘shortfall’, there are X number of projects, but the funding isn’t enough. And correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that your UK Government politicians say that too, is that correct? It just sounds totally stupid to say ‘we have a plan, but we can’t fund it’, am I missing something? Here in Oz if a project can’t be fully funded, it would either be cut or the capability reduced.… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Mate it’s been an ongoing issue for years, but my interpretation is we have aspirations, then we have reality. Politicians want us to be able to do certain things, they don’t really understand the subject matter. No matter how noble and well planned the next big project, something will always crop up (certainly HERRICK fucked up the equipment plan and budget for 10 years) and they then decide to just extend the project lead time to save money in the short term, but with a long term increase. But, with a 5 year parliament, or with politicians cutting about from… Read more »

Rodd
Rodd
2 months ago
Reply to  John N

What we don’t have is strike aircraft. Since the retirement of the f111s.
I would love to see a 2021 version of the pby catalina
Grear range, great dexterity/versatility and you can’t blow up its runway. I imagine that alot of missiles could be slung on it, and would be a good drone too.

Douglas Newell
Douglas Newell
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Great Video. It was interesting to see the difference between the F18 and F35 engine plumes on take off.

Stealth covers a wide range of different technologies.

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  Douglas Newell

Yes I noticed that too, probably the first time I’ve seen an F-35 on take off at night.

The afterburner flame was certainly ‘suppressed’ compared to the Super Hornet.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

G’day, You needed us, to remind you, port is left and starboard is right.
Or, is it the other way round?

A fleet of 3 is pretty pathetic.

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

I hear the plan is to steal it John, an easy way of getting the fleet to 4…..

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

And you lot call us convicts and criminals, hey?

That’s the pot calling the kettle black!!

Paul42
Paul42
3 months ago

At least we won’t need to worry about crewing. The three we’ll have will have very limited flying hours due to maintenance with only 2(possibly one available at any given time) two fully trained crews should do it.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago

Buying just three ain’t bloody worth it! Might as well save the money, abandoned the capability and bought something else instead. Five made some sense. Three doesn’t.

Nic
Nic
3 months ago

I am surprised that they haven’t cancelled the complete order .

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
3 months ago

At least the lad who come back from a tour in Aus will be good at BBQs, not so sure Lossiemouth has the weather though for a BBQ on the beach.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

I’m curious.

Why has 3 Nimrod R1, then 3 RC135, been ok for years in such a vital role but for the differing ASCS mission 3 is not?

Our 7 Sentry soon became 6, now 4.

I’m hoping these are supplemented by an UAV type.

Our intelligence systems are shared with 5 eyes and some with NATO, and so the same with radar coverage. Why the angst?

Is radar coverage needed more than the intelligence mission?

Like others I’m disappointed at 3 not 5 but are there other factors?

Julian1
Julian1
3 months ago

I would argue that AWACS is a more important role than ISTAR/ELINT. It is defensive in nature and needed to help coordinate air defence assets. Multiple airforces operate with AWACS but not the others.

dan
dan
3 months ago

You have to be prepared to go it alone even if that means just holding out for a week or 2 until America/NATO sends over more AWACS, ect assets. Also if/when China and the US go head to head do you think Russia is just going to sit by and behave. They will see it as an opportunity to take back some of the territory they lost. That means far less American help for Europe. Britain and Germany seem to be planning for the best case scenarios with regards to their defense spending. Neither seems to have learned from history.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

You could say that about the SIGINT mission dan, and people are not. That was my point.
Otherwise yes I agree we are nuts to keep cutting defence numbers.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
3 months ago

I’m guessing because ELINT/SIGINT/AGS/ISTAR is more like set piece missions, so the crew are specifically going somewhere to do something whereas AEW&C is actually where you might want a more continuous presence? Maybe it could be offset with UAV wingmen, who knows.
Since the number was cut, do you know if they’re all new build or conversions and if it’s affected the price of the deal? Wiki is saying it was £2 billion for five, have we got ourselves into a fixed price Type 45 situation again?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

Not a clue on that Ryan.

Mal Shaw
Mal Shaw
3 months ago

This aircraft is so ugly. Three too many for the RAF. Lets hope it’s only capable of night flying over the UK!

Johan
Johan
3 months ago

Ok Calm Down, MOD been very clever as these E-7s are being converted in the UK. and currently there are a Host of 737 airframes parked in Storage. E-7 is Night and Day ahead of the E-3. and the P-8s can carry the recon Pod making the E-7s redundant. Our ISTAR operations were being abused by our Nato Partners and non were prepared to provide there own units.

UK mod not supposed to carry the slack from the EU and its lack of resources.

dan
dan
3 months ago
Reply to  Johan

What recon pod are you referring to?

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Johan

If you are referring to the littoral surveillance radar system (LSRS) otherwise known as the advanced airborne sensor (AAS) that has been used on the US P8s. Then the two radars have completely different roles. It provides multifunction moving target detection, as well as high resolution ground mapping at stand-off ranges. It basically does the same function as the RAF Sentinel’s Raytheon dual mode radar sensor (DMRS), but as a maritime littoral version for ground mapping. The E7s multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) radar is primarily focused on large volume air searching, but can also pinpoint and track multiple targets… Read more »

Mark Forsyth
Mark Forsyth
3 months ago

Saw on Flight radar that there was a RAAF aircraft flying into Brize last week. Can’t remember but think it was an A330

John N
John N
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

That would have been our Aussie PM Scott Morrison who was invited to the G7 meeting by your PM Boris Johnson, see from approx 1.30:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gL1GTCHWOM8

The aircraft was KC-30A A39-007 which has a VIP module fitted to part of the cabin.

You’ll also notice the SATCOM domes for secure communications.

Cheers,

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Strange….when Boris Johnson made use of a Voyager there were screams in the UK…

Tman
Tman
3 months ago

I’m actually pretty curious as to why people would be so upset about that? As an airframe it is very efficient for long range trips. VIP module just rolls on and off. Tanker can keep doing it’s job 99% of the time. Crew get some flight hours and some loading/unloading practice. Plenty of space for all the gov staffers and media gaggle to tag along in normal seating in the back. Plenty of cargo space for any special gear. Seems like a far more sensible option than anything else I can think of.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Tman

Agree. It was a sensible use of an existing asset.

John N
John N
3 months ago

We’ve certainly had our fair share of screams in the past regarding ‘VIP’ aircraft too (the current RAAF ‘official’ VIP fleet operated by 34SQN, it consists of 2 x Boeing 737 BBJ and 3 x Falcon 7X). A few years back the PM of the day went to the US for a visit/meeting with the US President of the day, but there was one problem. The BBJs have long range, but can only carry a small number of passengers, the accompanying ‘media scrum’ had to follow in separate commercial aircraft. So roll forward in time to when the Government ordered… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

Different types of Screams John. As in what are they doing with their own private plane blah blah blah. And wow betide if we actually put the national flag on it.

Your screams are reasonable. There needs to be room for the entourage.

John N
John N
3 months ago

Mate, we’ve had exactly the same screams about politicians use of their private aircraft fleet, etc, etc, especially on internal flights here in Oz, and especially during elections too.

As for -007, I remember some rumbling in the media when it was first mentioned there would be a partial VIP fitout, but since it’s entry into service the media hasn’t made a fuss.

Cheers,

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  John N

How refreshing it is not just here John! Cheers.

Jamie Blyther
Jamie Blyther
3 months ago

With the uk only being able to afford three E7A wedgetails at present. Would it be cheaper/ possible to supplement the AEW coverage with the merlin system mounted in a business jet until we can afford more E7A .