Thales2010-02-02 14:53:22

Thales to support Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail training

Thales Australia has signed a five-year agreement with Boeing Defence Australia to provide through life maintenance and engineering support for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Operational Flight Trainer (OFT).

Developed by Thales in Australia and the UK, the Wedgetail OFT combines a range of state-of-the-art technologies to provide flight performance, air-to-air refuelling, flight deck and pilot tactical training capabilities.

Located at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, the OFT is a key component of the RAAF's Wedgetail AEW&C pilot training program, which will commence in early 2010.

Managed by Boeing Defence Australia, the Thales-designed and built, motion-based OFT provides realistic and high-quality simulated flight crew operations, and will be the sole Wedgetail pilot training device for the RAAF.

Chris Jenkins, Managing Director of Thales Australia, said: "Thales is pleased to be involved in the Wedgetail program for the RAAF, and the contract with Boeing Defence Australia will ensure Thales's AEW&C support continues on from delivering the OFT in 2006 to securing simulator availability during critical RAAF pilot training periods. This contract strengthens Thales Australia's longstanding partnership and close working relationship with Boeing Defence Australia and the RAAF."

For John Duddy, Boeing Defence Australia Vice President and Managing Director, the RAAF Wedgetail AEW&C pilot training program will benefit from Thales's through-life support.

"As Thales is the original equipment manufacturer of the Wedgetail OFT, Boeing Defence Australia is confident Thales's in-depth simulator knowledge and maintenance experience will benefit the RAAF and its pilots, and further strengthen the close working relationship between Boeing and Thales," Duddy said.

Known as 'zero flight time pilot training', the OFT will provide the RAAF with the ability to graduate Wedgetail pilots with 100 per cent of their type conversion training completed on the simulator. The OFT was awarded the highest level of Australian flight simulator accreditation in June 2008.

Accepted by the RAAF in February 2009, the OFT was the first segment of the Wedgetail program delivered to Australia. The Airborne Mission Segment, Operational Mission Simulator, AEW&C Support Facility and Mission Support Segment are expected to be delivered in 2010 and 2011.

The Commonwealth of Australia has procured six Boeing AEW&C aircraft to provide airborne surveillance, air defence, fleet support and force coordination, with two delivered to the RAAF in November 2009. The OFT is customised to reflect unique characteristics of the Wedgetail AEW&C system, including controls for the communication, aerial refuelling and Electronic Warfare Self Protection systems.

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