The Australian government and Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) announced on 28 September the signing of an agreement to consolidate support for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) fleet of E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
The new agreement, which reflects ongoing defence procurement reforms in Australia, amalgamates activity under previously signed separate deals worth more than AUD1.5 billion (USD1 billion) featuring aircraft upgrades and sustainment support.
Commenting on the arrangement, Australia’s Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said, “This important agreement will simplify and make more efficient the contract arrangements that support this world-leading capability.”
As part of the framework agreement, the government said the in-service support contract (ISSC) through which the Wedgetail aircraft is sustained has been extended through to 2025. Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo said, “The extension allows … continued growth in Australian industry content particularly in systems and software engineering.”
The ISSC deal was signed in 2014 and was worth AUD901 million over five years. The contract covers the Wedgetail programme and supply chain management, engineering, and maintenance support until at least 2019, with the potential for further annual contract extensions based on performance and continuous improvement.
The upgrade programme – under AIR 5077 Phase 5A – was awarded to BDA in 2017 and is worth AUD582 million. The upgrade features new combat identification sensors, tactical data links, communications hardware and encryption systems, and mission-computing hardware and software upgrades.
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