Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force
Feb 2, 2011 By David A. Fulghum / Aviationweek.com
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia is integrating three new operational elements into its advanced, network-centric military — a squadron of Wedgetail command and control aircraft, the first two squadrons of F/A-18F Super Hornets and the Vigilare theater surveillance integration system — all designed as the backbone of a small, highly responsive force. However, this cutting-edge force was envisioned somewhat differently only five years ago. The Wedgetail had a 2006 delivery date and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters were slated to replace the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) classic F-18 Hornets as soon as they were available. Instead, the Wedgetail’s radar was set back by a two-year delay for hardware and software redesign that has stretched into more than four years. The massive task of integrating many sources, services and sensor types caused a dragging out of Vigilare’s operational introduction. Finally, the U.S. slowed the F-35 program and drove up its cost, which injected uncertainty into Australia’s budgeting.
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