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A310 AEW

Raytheon Systems Company, in conjunction with the Elta Division of Israeli Aircraft Industries and Airbus Industries, developed the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system. This unique AEW&C system can be tailored to meet the most demanding system requirements. On 11 February 1999, Raytheon and Ansett Australia announced their intention to form a joint venture for the modification and conversion of seven Airbus A310-300 aircraft to form the Royal Australian Air Force's "Wedgetail" Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) fleet.

The decision that Australia should buy an AEW&C system owed much to a 1994 study which demonstrated that AEW&C aircraft offered the best solution to Australia's northern air defence needs. On 21 July 1999 it was announced that the Boeing Company was selected as the preferred tenderer to supply seven B737-700 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) platforms to the Australian Defence Force. Raytheon will continue explore other marketing opportunites, having lost the Wedgetail competition to Boeing.

The system developed by Raytheon and its partners was based on an Airbus A310-300 aircraft - an ideal platform given that aircraft's wide body, long endurance, modern flight deck and systems and economical operation. An advanced 360o derivative of the fully operational ELTA PHALCON Electronically Scanned Phased Array Radar is traditionally mounted in a fixed dome above the airframe. A Raytheon open architecture, advanced tactical data system is integrated with all onboard sensors to control the system and display the tactical situation on a dual screen crew console. This combination of aircraft, radar and mission system was selected after a lengthy evaluation because it meets or exceeds all known AEW&C requirements, and because of the generous provision for growth in each key element of the system. The Wedgetail System can be expanded to include additional sensors and an airborne refuelling capability. Other options include a Mission Support Segment, Operational Mission Simulator, Operational flight Trainer and AEW&C Support Facility. Mission endurance will exceed 10 hours.

The Raytheon E-Systems A310 AEW&C is based on the commercial Airbus Industries A310-300, which has a modern all glass cockpit, digital avionics and aerodynamic winglets to reduce vortex energy loss. It is fitted with a IAI Elta Electronically Scanned Array (ESA) Radar in fixed dome mounted on pylons above the rear fuselage. A Raytheon E-Systems open architecture proprietary mission system using DEC ALPHA multi-functional mission crew work stations is integrated with the radar. Raytheon E-Systems has teamed with IAI Elta, Airbus Industrie, Hawker de Havilland, Honeywell Australia, E-Systems Australia, Australian Defence Industries and Adacel for the A310 AEW&C System.

The Raytheon E-Systems A310 AEW&C was not selected by Australia for the Wedgetail requirement. Instead, the competing Boeing team was awarded an Initial Design Activity contract by the Australian Defence Force in December 1997. As part of that contract, the team worked on a design solution to meet the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) requirements for an AEW&C system. In July 1999, the Boeing team was selected as the preferred tenderer for Project Wedgetail.

Turkey issued a request for proposals for four AEW&C aircraft in 1998. Both Boeing and Raytheon initially offered to provide four aircraft for $1.5 billion, but later agreed to provide six aircraft for a similar price when Turkey balked at the cost. Raytheon offered an Elta Phalcon 360 radar integrated on an Airbus A310. In November 2000 the Turkish government announced plans to purchase six Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft, with an option on a seventh, plus ground support elements for $1.5 billion.



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