Australia's Commitment to Ukraine's Security: E-7A Wedgetail Deployment


The Australian government announced on July 10th, 2023, that the E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, developed from a Boeing B-737 and equipped with a multi-role active electronically scanned array radar provided by Northrop Grumman, will be deployed to Ramstein, Germany, starting from October. This initiative aims to ensure the protection of international aid convoys bound for Ukraine by conducting surveillance flights over Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and potentially Hungary. It is important to note that the aircraft will operate outside Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian airspace.

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Australias Commitment to Ukraines Security E 7A Wedgetail Deployment 925 Thanks to its versatile capabilities, the E-7A Wedgetail has become a significant asset for air forces engaged in surveillance, command, and control missions worldwide, contributing to the security and stability of military operations in various contexts.  (Picture source: Dvids )


According to Richard Marles, the Australian Minister for Defense, this deployment seeks to bolster NATO's early warning capability to protect vital support being sent to Ukraine by the international community. However, questions remain about the motivations behind this decision. Some wonder if Australia fears possible Russian strikes outside Ukrainian territory that could lead to a direct war with NATO, or if it aims to strengthen its intelligence capabilities in Ukraine's vicinity.

NATO already has its own AEW&C aircraft, including 14 E-3 AWACS, but their replacement is planned for around 2035. The E-7A Wedgetail is one of the potential successors, along with the Saab GlobalEye. This deployment marks a significant step in cooperation between Australia and NATO, demonstrating Australia's commitment to supporting Ukraine against Russia and contributing to Euro-Atlantic security.

The E-7A Wedgetail is a surveillance and AEW&C aircraft developed by Boeing to meet the needs of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and other air forces worldwide. Based on the renowned Boeing 737 commercial airplane, the Wedgetail is equipped with a powerful multi-role active electronically scanned array radar provided by Northrop Grumman, offering a range of over 400 km. This cutting-edge technology enables the aircraft to detect, track, and monitor multiple air and maritime targets in real-time, while providing effective command and control on the battlefield. With its early warning capability, the E-7A can detect potential threats from long distances, making it an essential tool for ensuring the security and protection of international military and humanitarian operations, as in the case of the deployment in Germany for aid protection to Ukraine.

In addition to its radar, the E-7A Wedgetail is equipped with advanced electronic countermeasures and various communication systems, including UHF, HF, VHF, Link 11, Link 16, ICS, and SATCOM, ensuring real-time connectivity with ground, maritime, and aerial forces. The aircraft is operated by a crew of multiple personnel, including radar operators, mission controllers, and communication systems specialists. With considerable operational range, the E-7A Wedgetail is capable of staying airborne for extended periods, providing continuous surveillance and efficient coordination of operations. Thanks to its versatile capabilities, the E-7A Wedgetail has become a significant asset for air forces engaged in surveillance, command, and control missions worldwide, contributing to the security and stability of military operations in various contexts.

AEW&C aircraft play a crucial role in overseeing the tactical battle space, providing guidance to fighter planes, surface combatants, land-based units, and supporting aircraft like tankers and intelligence platforms.

Regarding Australia's support to Ukraine, Minister Richard Marles highlighted that this deployment is part of Australia's ongoing commitment to Ukraine in the face of Russia. This assistance has already taken various forms, including the delivery of military equipment.

In recent years, Canberra has provided Kiev with Bushmaster and M113 armored vehicles, M777 105 mm howitzers, and drones, totaling approximately 400 million euros. This military aid demonstrates Australia's commitment to strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities amid regional tensions.

In addition to these ground-based armament deliveries, Australia is also considering donating F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers to the Ukrainian Air Force. These aircraft were recently retired from service by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) but could be of great use to Ukrainian forces.

As the situation in Ukraine evolves, the E-7A Wedgetail serves as a symbol of solidarity and a tangible contribution to enhancing Ukraine's defense capabilities. In this context, Australia's support for Ukraine resonates with the broader principles of upholding international law, preserving territorial integrity, and fostering a climate of security and cooperation in the region and beyond.