• An E-7A Wedgetail from Number 2 Squadron sits on the tarmac at Nellis Air Force Base.
    An E-7A Wedgetail from Number 2 Squadron sits on the tarmac at Nellis Air Force Base. Defence

In mid-August, ADM revealed that three RAF crewmembers, comprising a pilot, an Electronic Support Measures Operator (ESMO), and a Surveillance and Control Officer undertook an E-7 Wedgetail conversion course with 2 Sqn at Williamtown.

ADM also understands that at least two USAF personnel concurrently underwent Wedgetail conversion at Williamtown.

This week, the British government confirmed that it was in discussion with Boeing and the RAAF about the potential for the E-7 Wedgetail to replace its current Sentry fleet.

"Our future with Australia will already see us operate the same maritime patrol aircraft, world-class Type 26 warships and supersonic F-35 jets. Wedgetail may join that formidable armoury and help us work together to take on the global threats that we both face," British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

Whilst a formal decision awaits the outcome of discussions, the UK Ministry of Defence said that it has "concluded that the potential procurement of the E-7 represents the best value for money option for the UK against need, whilst representing a significant opportunity for increased defence cooperation and collaboration with our key ally Australia."

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Steve Ciobo welcomed the announcement and said it would further deepen Australia’s relationship with the UK and was an endorsement of a crucial part of Australia’s air combat capability.

“The Wedgetail is a great Australian success story, designed for the RAAF with investment by the Australian Government and significant contribution by Australian industry, it is a highly advanced world-best aircraft,” Minister Pyne said.

“Widely recognised as the most advanced aircraft of its type in the Western world, the Wedgetail provides state-of-the-art airborne surveillance, communications and battle management systems.” 

Australia has had Wedgetail aircraft deployed in the Middle East since October 2014 in support of operations against ISIL, where it has reportedly earned a reputation for being the coalition’s preferred for-purpose aircraft thanks to both its performance and high mission success rate.

“Australian industry, including the more than 200 Australian companies that have contributed to our own Wedgetail acquisition and sustainment, stands to benefit from what could become one of Australia’s most significant defence exports,” Minister Ciobo said.

“A UK procurement will add to the global fleet of Wedgetails, already including Australia, Turkey and South Korea, which can be supported and sustained by Australian industry.”

The announcement follows the third Australia-UK Defence Industry Dialogue (AUKDID), held in London in July.

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