RAAF Wedgetail flew over Bundaberg Airport

RAAF E-7A Wedgetail
A RAAF E-7A Wedgetail flew over Bundaberg Airport on Tuesday afternoon. Source: RAAF

If you saw a strange aircraft flying over Bundaberg yesterday it was most likely a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail and not an alien spaceship.

Bundaberg Airport officials said the aircraft was visiting for training without landing.

The Wedgetail is a modified Boeing 737 with a “surfboard” stuck on top.

RAAF says the “surfboard” is actually “an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar”. The aircraft has 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.

“It's a highly advanced aircraft, providing an airborne early warning and control platform that can gather information from a wide variety of sources, analyse it, and distribute it to other assets,” RAAF says on its website.

“The E-7A Wedgetail provides Australia with one of the most advanced air battlespace management capabilities in the world.

“Based at RAAF Base Williamtown, our six E-7A Wedgetails significantly improve the effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force.

“They are capable of communicating with other aircraft and providing air control from the sky, and can cover four million square kilometres during a single 10-hour mission.”

Wikipedia says: “The radar is capable of simultaneous air and sea search, fighter control and area search, with a maximum range of over 600km (look-up mode). When operating in look-down mode against fighter-sized target, the maximum range is in excess of 370km. When used against maritime targets, the maximum range is over 240km for frigate-sized targets.”

On 1 October 2014, a Wedgetail conducted the first Australian sortie over Iraq supporting coalition forces conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).