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Australia's Wedgetail operational

Nov. 20, 2012 at 3:46 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Australian air force's advance warning Wedgetail aircraft is now operational.

The air force announced that its Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail aircraft has achieved Initial Operational Capability. The aircraft is a version of Boeing's 737 aircraft.

Air force officials state that the Wedgetail can provide Australia with the most advanced air battle-space management capabilities in the world.

The Wedgetail's operational deployment is the result of close collaboration between the Australian air force, Australia's Defense Materiel Organization, Boeing and their subcontractors, the Australian Department of Defense said.

The air force said Wedgetail aircraft can fly 6.2 miles above the Earth's surface and maintain surveillance over 154,440 square miles at any given time. In the course of a 10-hour mission the Wedgetail can cover more than 1.5 million square miles.

Since last year Wedgetails have participated in Exercise Bersama Lima in Malaysia, Exercise Cope North Guam, Exercise Bersama Shield, Exercise Red Flag, Alaska and Exercise Rim of the Pacific.

The Wedgetail project was approved in 2000 with a budget of $3.45 billion.

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