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Australia touts Wedgetail sustainment contract

CANBERRA, Australia, March 17 (UPI) -- Australia's military is touting a $813 million contract extension to Boeing Defense Australia for sustainment services for Wedgetail aircraft.

The contract ensures job security for Australian workers and also value-for-money in keeping the Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of E-7 Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft in the air, Minister for Defense David Johnston said Monday.

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"The extension ensures efficient and cost-effective sustainment support, and is also testament to the effective build-up by Australian industry of E-7A Wedgetail operating, maintaining and engineering knowledge," Johnston said.

"This is a significant outcome for the Wedgetail program and for the 290 industry staff employed directly on Wedgetail support in the Newcastle, Brisbane/Ipswich and Adelaide regions.

"Extending this contract maintains Australian industry's involvement and leadership in the sustainment of the Wedgetail capability," he said.

The contract covers engineering and maintenance support, repairs, spare parts and aircrew and maintenance training for the Wedgetail, which is based on Boeing's 737-700 commercial airliner airframe.

Australia has six of the aircraft, which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.

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