2014-02-28 Second Line of Defense is currently visiting the Pacific and soon will visit the Wedgetail squadron, which currently operates from RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, New South Wales.
During the exercise AWACS and Wedgetail played the core command and control role and F-22s in Alaska (which includes one flown by an Aussie exchange pilot) worked effectively with Wedgetail.
Wedgetail is a software upgradeable aircraft with regard to its core systems, notably the radar, and has evolved since its first appearance in 2010 at a multi-national exercise into a more interoperable platform.
According to the PACAF Commander, “Hawk” Carlisle, the close working relationship between the Australian Air Force (the RAAF) and the USAF has been part of the trajectory of enhanced interoperability delivered by the Wedgetail.
The ability to evolve the capability of a software upgradeable aircraft (the F-35 is one as well) was highlighted in one of the RAAF interviews conducted by the Australian defense journalist Ian McPhedran in his book Air Force:
‘Someone asked me, “When will we get the full technical maturity out of Wedgetail?
” I answered “never” because it will just continue to grow and the capability will be far greater in 30 years than what it is now.’
McPhedran, Ian (2011-08-08). Air Force (Kindle Locations 5776-5777). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
And translating that working relationship into software code is part of the process of enhancing capability over time.
In a posting from the RAAF on February 23, 2014, the role of the Wedgetail in Red Flag was discussed.
About 300 RAAF personnel from around Australia deployed to Exercise Red Flag held between 21st Jan — 15 Feb 2014.
The Exercise was conducted on the 15,000-square-mile Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las Vegas in the United States.
The large scale exercise involved experienced aircrews from different air forces, including the United States and Great Britain flying strike, electronic warfare, tactical transport, fighter escort, airborne warning and control and air to air refueling missions against dedicated defensive fighter aircraft and an extensive range of simulated surface to air threats.
Exercise RED FLAG is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Centre and Nellis Air Force Base, through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.