The first two Wedgetail aircraft were handed over to the RAAF today at RAAF Williamtown, both were still sporting FAA N registrations. This was not however the formal delivery, that is not expected until 2010.
In news intyerviews with RAAF officers on TV, they did not expect the 6 aircraft ordered to be fully operational for some time yet, possibly not until 2013
from the official Australian DoD press release
“Development, test and evaluation are still ongoing with many hurdles still to be overcome, particularly with respect to radar, electronic support measures and integrated system performance and stability.
“However with the initial delivery of two aircraft, Defence will now be able to conduct familiarisation training while Boeing completes the remaining test program and acceptance activities,” AVM Deeble said.
Regarding why they are still FAA registered
The initial delivery denotes that the aircraft have been provided by Boeing to the RAAF for training purposes, but will not be formally handed over to its new owner until March 2010. Despite wearing their ADF serial numbers – A30-001 and A30-004 - the aircraft will remain on Boeing’s books and the US civil register until that time, and Boeing must provide a pilot in command and a flight test engineer on all RAAF training flights until the official handover.
Also some more details of the ongoing problems
DEFENCE has taken delivery of two Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft, four years behind schedule for the $4 billion project.
Listed in the black book of Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, as a “project of concern” the aircraft's developmental MESA radar is not delivering its much hyped specifications.
Today, defence admitted technical bugs still needed to be fixed.