WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force conducted its first test exercise with the E-7 Wedgetail, a Boeing Co. aircraft now used by the Australian military that will begin replacing retired E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft in a decade.

The participation of Wedgetail in Exercise Black flagheld at Nelis Air Force Base in Nevada from May 9 to 13, could help the service devise new tactics and options for its use once it joins the service’s fleet.

Black Flag is a combined series of large-scale test events conducted by Nellis’ 53rd Wing, which focuses on operational testing and tactics development. Tests conducted there are helping the Air Force find new opportunities and ways for fighters, bombers, reconnaissance, reconnaissance and reconnaissance aircraft and other programs to work together. This is done by realistically simulating a battle with massive forces in a high-threat environment.

The Air Force said in a statement on May 20 that the Black Flag event was needed to ensure that all U.S. military services and allied partners were ready to work together immediately if conflict broke out.

“This integration is more than simple [a] test, “Black Flag Director Major Theodore Ellis said in a May 20 statement. “We are developing the backbone that will manage our tactics and communication capabilities in a wartime scenario. So, if we get to the first night [of a battle]we don’t need to train everyone, the knowledge will already be there and we can focus on the fight. “

Wedgetail, now operated by the Royal Australian Air Force and other nations, provides command and control and ISR capabilities to support battlefield management.

The RAAF owned and operated Wedgetail, which participated in the Black Flag, the BBC reported. Following this event, the RAAF flew its E-7 to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to participate in the 53rd Wing East Weapons Assessment Program, a joint event to assess how well a squadron can keep alive. fire air-to-air missions.

Last month, the Air Force announced that it had decided to replace part of its obsolete AWACS fleet with Wedgetails, ending a long period of speculation that the service would accept Boeing planes now flying from Australia and other countries. The first rapid prototype E-7 is expected to be delivered in fiscal 2027.

And the BBC is working with its Australian counterparts in several areas to ease the transition period for adopting Wedgetail. For example, Australia voluntarily trains American E-7 pilots early so they can start flying with it as soon as possible on delivery. This was said to MPs last week by Lieutenant General David Nahom, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Plans and Programs.

The Black Flag test event is largely focused on the fact that the technology used for automated long-range killing circuits is working properly, the BBC said.

He tested two new data translation and routing tools, one called the Watchbox and the other TRAX, for the Tactical Radio Application Extension, which sought to transmit guidance data from sensors to pilots firing weapons much faster than faster. old systems through the use of automation.

“A single entry of intelligence into a database during the integration phase of our weapons school can usually take 25 to 30 minutes before being handed over to a shooter on link 16.” Ridge Flick, an Air Force associate assigned to the U.S. Air Force War Center, I said. “We have now shortened the timeline by automated means to anywhere from 40 seconds to four minutes and eliminated the errors of transposing information from people from one system to another.”

Flick and his team tested automated intelligence reporting with the Watchbox and then automatically transmitted the information to six ground nodes and two Link 16 networks using TRAX, the BBC said, proving that these systems could significantly shorten killing chains.

The Air Force said Black Flag was successfully testing a new concept for a mobile command and control system, or C2, that loads standard technology, such as antennas, various radios, robust computers and servers, into a sports car.

This would be an advantage over the usual tactical C2 capabilities, which are made up of bulky and heavy parts of older technology that are difficult to move easily, it said.

“It’s inconspicuous, and if we had to abandon the vehicle in a scenario, we could do it in less than 20 minutes with all our equipment,” said Major Padon Allen, commander of Division C2 of the 422nd Test Squadron and an assessment that emerged with the C2 concept in the SUV. “With this innovative ability, we have proven that we can set up a store anywhere without setup time.”

The team completed two missions using this C2 tactical concept to show that it can be flexible and move fast. At one point, the SUV was transported by air in the KC-130 Marine Corps to a dry lake bed at the Nevada Test and Training Range to show how it can be deployed and recovered from harsh conditions.

The Air Force said tests showed the concept could be adapted to several other types of vehicles, to transmit higher data classifications and to fold emerging technologies, which would allow the concept to be better integrated with other forces.

Other Black Flag aircraft include the RAAF F-35A Lightning II, the US Marine Corps F / A-18 Hornets and the Air Force Warthogs A-10, the F-16 Fighting Falcons and the F-22 Raptors.

Stephen Lowey is an air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously reported on Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. He previously covered US Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for the Air Force Times.

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/05/23/australians-bring-wedgetail-to-black-flag-test-as-us-preps-for-awacs-replacement/

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