The six E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have been declared fully operationally ready after it has directed Australian and coalition aircraft in strike missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for 1200 hours.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews was quoted as saying by various reports on Wednesday that Australia now had the most advanced air battle space management capability in the world. A succession of technical problems with the aircraft's advanced radar raised concerns that the entire project could be cancelled.
The government commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to assess radar performance and judge whether it could ever achieve desired capability. However, the result was positive.
RAAF deputy chief Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies said Wedgetail now provided Australia with the ability to control and survey vast areas of operation.
"The aircraft's advanced multi-role radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and co-ordinate a joint air, sea and land operations in real time," he said in a statement.
Boeing was named as preferred tenderer for the $3.5 billion project in 1999, with the first two aircraft promised for late 2006. It was named Wedgetail after the high-flying all-seeing Australian native eagle. But in mid-2006, defence revealed technical problems.
The delay eventually exceeded four years, with the government enforcing contract provisions which required Boeing to deliver what it promised. But the problems were with the Northrop Grumman radar, able to watch out over 400 kilometers, directing fighters to any threat.