May 5, 2022: The U.S. Air Force has decided to replace its 31 elderly E-3 AWACS (Air Warning and Control) aircraft with the existing E-7A Wedgetail. The E-7A first flew in 2004 and Australia was the first customer, ordering six. So far 17 E-7As are in service or on order for export customers Australia, South Korea, Turkey and Britain. The initial American order will increase that to 32 E-7A and more orders will follow because 68 E-3s were built, most of them for export customers.
The American E-3s were built between 1977 and 1984 and all will be over 40 years old when the air force receives its first E-7A in 2027. The air force will order fifteen E-7As initially and may replace some of the remaining E-3s with proposed UAV-based AWACS. The 157-ton E-3s require more equipment operators and are more expensive to operate than the E-7A, especially because the E-3s are much older and the E-7A is a more recent and efficient aircraft design. The air force sees the cheaper operating costs of the E-7A covering much of the cost of buying and operating the new aircraft. Another cost-savings is the fact that Australia and Boeing paid for getting the E-7A through the expensive development process.
Wedgetail is a militarized Boeing 737 transport. E-7A cruise speed is 853 kilometers an hour and it has a crew of 8-12 pilots and equipment operators, for a search radar and various other sensors. The 78-ton Wedgetail can stay in the air for more than ten hours per sortie. Wedgetail can refuel in the air and Australian Wedgetails often flew longer missions (14 hours or so) in the Middle East. The limit here was mainly crew fatigue.
"楔尾 "是一种军用波音737运输机。E-7A巡航速度为每小时853公里，拥有8-12名飞行员和设备操作员，用于搜索雷达和各种其他传感器。这架78吨重的"楔尾 "每架次可以在空中停留10个多小时。"楔尾 "可以在空中加油，澳大利亚"楔尾 "经常在中东执行更长的飞行任务（14小时左右）。这里的限制主要是乘员疲劳。
By 2022 Australia had spent another $443 million to upgrade its six E-7As with some new sensors and improved communications (data links with other aircraft and ground stations as well as improved encryption). The need for the upgrades became clear after several thousand hours of Wedgetail combat experience supporting operations against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq and Syria since 2014. This was the first combat experience for Wedgetail and began before Wedgetail was declared completely operational in May 2015.
到2022年，澳大利亚又花了4.43亿美元升级了六架E-7A，配备了一些新的传感器和改进的通信（与其他飞机和地面站的数据链路以及改进的加密）。自2014年以来，在支持伊拉克和叙利亚针对ISIL（伊拉克和黎凡特的伊斯兰国）的行动的数千小时"楔尾 "战斗经验之后，升级的必要性变得显而易见。这是"楔尾 "的第一次战斗体验，在2015年5月宣布"楔尾 "完全投入使用之前就开始了。
Australia spent nearly two decades developing and tweaking Wedgetail and it is normal for aircraft of this type to be regularly upgraded, especially if they spend a lot of time in combat. Work on Wedgetail began in 1997 and the first ones were to be delivered in 2006. But that did not happen until 2009, when the first two arrived. By 2014 all six were available. Limited capability was achieved in 2012 but several of the electronic systems were still having some problems, causing more delays. The Wedgetail program has cost Australia over $3 billion and the suppliers have absorbed nearly a billion dollars in additional costs to fix most of the technical problems with the aircraft and electronics. There have been a lot of technical problems, many of them unexpected. It costs some $28 million a year to maintain each Wedgetail even if it is not flying.
澳大利亚花了近20年时间研发和调整"楔尾 "，这类飞机定期升级是正常的，尤其是如果它们在战斗中花费大量时间的话。"楔尾 "的工作始于1997年，第一批定于2006年交付。但直到2009年第一批两架才交付。到2014年，所有六架都可使用。2012年实现了有限的能力，但一些电子系统仍存在一些问题，导致更多的延迟。"楔尾 "项目已经花费了澳大利亚超过30亿美元，供应商已经吸收了近10亿美元的额外成本来解决飞机和电子设备的大部分技术问题。出现了很多技术问题，其中很多都是意想不到的。即使每架"楔尾 "不飞行，每年也要花费2800万美元来维护它。
Australia was the first customer for Wedgetail and that’s why the Australian program has had so many problems. South Korea, Turkey have since bought another eight Wedgetails and now other nations are interested as well.
澳大利亚是"楔尾 "的第一个客户，这就是为什么澳大利亚项目有这么多问题。自那以后，韩国、土耳其又购买了8架"楔尾 "，现在其他国家也对其感兴趣。
The Wedgetail radar can spot fighter size aircraft 370 kilometers away and frigate size ships up to 240 kilometers away. This dual sea and air search radar capability is essential because Australia is surrounded by water and has no land borders with anyone. The radar can also detect other electronic transmissions up to 850 kilometers away and has software and databases that can identify a large number of different transmissions. Acting as a pure AWACS Wedgetail can track up to 180 aircraft and guide friendly warplanes to 24 intercepts at a time.
"楔尾 "雷达可以发现370公里外的战斗机大小的飞机和最远240公里外的护卫舰大小的船只。这种海空双重搜索雷达能力至关重要，因为澳大利亚四面环海，与任何人没有陆地边界。该雷达还可以探测到最远850公里以外的其他电子通讯，并拥有可以识别大量不同通讯的软件和数据库。作为纯粹的AWACS"楔尾 "可以跟踪多达180架飞机，并一次引导友军战机进行24次拦截。
Smaller, more powerful and cheaper electronics made smaller twin-jets practical and the most cost- effective aircraft for tasks formerly requiring four-engine turbo-prop or jet aircraft. Even the new U.S. Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft is based on the Boeing 767 twin-jet airliner.