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Ukraine conflict: Australian Wedgetail arrives in Europe to oversee Ukraine relief efforts

A single Australian Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft will support international aid operations into Ukraine. (Commonwealth of Australia)

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft has deployed to Europe to help oversee military and humanitarian relief efforts into Ukraine.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 25 October that the aircraft that was pledged in July had arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, from where it will support the flow of military and humanitarian assistance into Ukraine.

As noted by the DoD, the mission is being flown under the auspices of Operation ‘Kudu', which is the Australian Defence Force's commitment to the training of Armed Forces of Ukraine recruits in the United Kingdom.

When Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made the announcement in July of the Wedgetail deployment to Europe, he said that the deployment would comprise 100 RAAF personnel for six months. In his announcement, Albanese stressed that the aircraft will operate only over European airspace.

The RAAF fields four Wedgetail aircraft, based on the 737 airliner. The Wedgetail is designed to provide the RAAF with an airborne battle-management capability to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously via its Northrop Grumman multirole electronically scanned array (MESA) radar.

This MESA radar provides 360° coverage at ranges of more than 322 km for aerial targets and 241 km for patrol boat-sized surface contacts (these ranges can be significantly increased if the radar's power is focused in a particular direction, rather than applied in a general sweep). The Wedgetail's 10 mission system operators can oversee an area coverage of 4 million km2, with the aircraft having an endurance of 10 hours.

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