RAAF Wedgetail at work on Ukraine-support mission

Night has fallen at Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany, and the temperature plummets towards freezing, but the cold weather does not deter the Royal Australian Air Force maintenance crew hard at work on the tarmac.

CAPTIONPersonnel from 2 Squadron operate an aircraft de-icing machine to remove ice and snow from an E-7A Wedgetail during Operation Kudu in Germany. Story by Major Carrie Robards. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Adam Abela.

Their efforts are to prepare the RAAF Wedgetail E-7A – a twin-engine airborne early warning and control aircraft, which has deployed to Europe under Operation Kudu.

The Wedgetail E-7A and a contingent of about 100 personnel have deployed to Germany with a mission profile of protecting humanitarian and military assistance bound for Ukraine.

Their flying missions have successfully commenced.

Commander of the Task Element Wing Commander Darrin Lindsay said the contingent was assisting to provide key protection of the logistic node in eastern Europe.

“It’s allowed us to give defence to the logistics hub, which is allowing the Ukrainian people to protect themselves,” Wing Commander Lindsay said.

“We remain ready when called upon to work the surveillance effort as required.”

The Australian contingent, drawn mostly from 2 Squadron, but with support elements including 1 Security Forces Squadron and 1 Combat Communications Squadron, are making the most of the opportunity to use their skills in support of this important operational mission.

While the deployment is challenged by environmental conditions that have been significantly colder than back home at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, this task has been met by the opportunity for the contingent to up-skill.

In a RAAF first, the contingent has successfully tested a new de-icing and anti-icing capability.

An avionics technician from 2 Squadron said that this was an addition to the routine pre-flight checks to ensure the safety and performance of the jet.

“Routine pre-flight checks to get the aircraft ready include preparing the cockpit, making sure it’s configured correctly and running up the mission systems to make sure all the systems are serviceable,” the technician said.

“We’ve just successfully completed a de-icing procedure, which makes sure there is no ice build-up on flight services, because it is safety critical for flight.

“This is so we ensure all the ice is removed, and then we apply a thin layer of type four fluid to prevent any more build up.”

The aircraft has deployed at the request of the United States Air Force to integrate with the effort of Australia’s partners, including the United States and NATO, to support the multilayered protection of an eastern European logistic hub.

Combat Operations Division Chief, 603rd Air Operations Center, Colonel Roderick James said that the Australian contingent had performed admirably so far.

“I’ve worked with the Royal Australian Air Force for the bulk of my career and their performance has always been outstanding,” Colonel James said.

“Here at Ramstein they are providing a critical capability while ensuring peace and stability in the region.”

The Wedgetail E-7A is a highly advanced and capable platform that provides superior battlespace awareness and the ability for a commander to survey, command, control and coordinate in real time.

No ADF personnel or assets will enter Ukraine, and the E-7A is operating outside of Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian airspace during this deployment.

The ADF’s Wedgetail mission in Germany will continue until April 2024.

 

 


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