The first Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and
Control aircraft modified by Boeing Australia
(Aircraft #3 N359BJ) takes off on a check
flight from RAAF AFB Amberley, Australia.
1/23/2008 - ST. LOUIS -- The Boeing Company has
conducted a successful functional check flight of the
first 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control
(AEW&C) aircraft modified in Australia for Project
During the two-and-one-half hour flight Jan.23 from
Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, Australia,
pilot Regis Hancock and first officer Randon Stewart
performed a series of functional tests that verified
the airworthiness of the aircraft's systems and
The flight followed major aircraft modifications
performed by Boeing Australia Limited at Amberley,
including the installation and checkout of an advanced
Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA)
antenna, ventral fins and mission system equipment.
"Aircraft No. 3 will undergo an additional mission
functional check flight prior to returning Jan. 31 to
Seattle, where it will begin a five-month development
and type acceptance flight test program," said Scott
March, Boeing Wedgetail program manager.
The plane then will return to Australia to complete
configuration updates and production acceptance
testing prior to delivery. Boeing will deliver the
first two Wedgetail aircraft in March 2009 and the
remaining four aircraft by the end of 2009.
"The flight is a tribute to the tremendous
modification effort performed by Boeing Australia
Limited employees. Project Wedgetail is the largest
and most complex aircraft modification program ever
undertaken in Australia," said David Withers,
president of Boeing Australia Limited. "This project
demonstrates Boeing Australia Limited as a regional
leader in aircraft modifications and will increase the
company's in-country technical capability for future
The Wedgetail program includes six 737 AEW&C
aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew
training, mission support and system maintenance.
Modification of four aircraft in Amberley is under
way, with the first two completing modification in
Seattle prior to entering the flight test program.
The 737-700 features 21st century avionics,
navigation equipment and flight deck features. Because
of its advanced technology, the aircraft requires
minimal downtime for maintenance. The 737 series has a
worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support
In addition to Northrop Grumman's MESA antenna with
integrated identification friend-or-foe capabilities,
the aircraft features a flexible, open architecture
for cost-effective future upgrades, an extensive
communications suite and aerial refueling capability.
Source: Boeing Press Release