29 August 2023

Lockheed Martin Australia selected for RAAF’s new integrated air and missile defence system

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Air Battle Managers

The Joint Air Battle Management Systems will be able to draw sensor data from multiple fixed and mobile sensors. Photo: ADF.

One of the key elements of the Australian Defence Force’s future integrated force is a step closer after Lockheed Martin Australia was selected to be the Commonwealth’s strategic partner to provide a new integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability.

The Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) solution was selected ahead of an offering led by Northrop Grumman Australia. Region understands the parties were informed of the decision on 7 August.

The $765 million Project AIR 6500 Phase 1 IAMD will see LMA’s Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS) integrated with ADF command and control elements to provide a coordinated IAMD capability across the ADF wherever it is operating.

The JABMS will be integrated with advanced ground-based air defence radars supplied by Canberra-based CEA Technologies. It will also take data from other air defence systems, such as the future Project AIR 6502 medium-range ground-based air defence (MRGBAD) system, and the Australian Army’s short-range ground-based air defence (SRGBAD) system being developed for Project LAND 19 Phase 7B.

READ ALSO Lockheed Martin Australia builds capacity as major capability decisions loom

Other systems such as the Royal Australian Air Force’s E-7A Wedgetail airborne command and control aircraft and TPS-77 ground-based radars, the Royal Australian Navy’s ship-borne SPY-1D sensors and Aegis combat systems, space-based systems, and even civilian air traffic control radars will also be able to plug in to the JABMS system.

LMA’s solution for AIR 6500 Phase 1 was developed in Australia in partnership with a number of primes, including Leidos Australia, Boeing and Raytheon, and Australian small to medium enterprises including Silentium Defence, Consilium Technology, Consunet, Applied AI, C4i, Lucid Consulting Engineering and Canberra-based Penten.

These companies were brought in for their world-leading expertise in project management, cyber security, passive sensor technology, artificial intelligence, advanced communications and systems engineering and design.

CEA Technologies

The JABMS will be integrated with advanced radars supplied by Canberra-based CEA Technologies. Photo: ADF.

LMA invested more than $100 million into its JABMS over seven years, drawing from an engineering workforce of nearly 200 Australian and 60 US-based personnel to develop the solution.

“Lockheed Martin is deeply committed to being the ADF’s trusted, long-term sovereign partner for AIR6500-1,” Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Warren McDonald said in a 29 August release.

“To deliver on this key strategic national endeavour, we are leveraging our vast experience delivering battle-proven Integrated Air and Missile Defence systems and harnessing the full might of Australian industry to build a sovereign 21st Century Security capability trusted to defend Australia and its national interests now and in the future.”

Stephanie C Hill, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, added, “Australia’s AIR6500-1 program is truly transformational. It will set the blueprint for future military Joint All-Domain Operations across the globe.

“This critical capability will allow the ADF to leverage information from across all domains at greater speeds, with better accuracy and at a greater scale than it is capable of today.”

READ ALSO Lockheed Martin Australia touts export potential of home-grown battle management solution

The development of JABMS may also open up significant potential export opportunities for LMA.

“This approach will ensure Australian small to medium enterprises have ‘box seats’ in the global supply chain,” Mr McDonald added.

“The Integrated Air and Missile Defence sovereign technologies being created in Australia today will be exported to the world in the future – unlocking a $83 billion export market for Australia’s defence industry.

“We recognise a team approach is vital to the success of AIR6500-1 in building a sovereign Australian IAMD capability; therefore, moving forward on program execution, the majority of the program workshare will be allocated across Australian industry.”

In announcing LMA as the IAMD strategic partner, the Australian Government said it intended to accelerate the planned AIR 6502 medium-range air defence system. It said options are currently being developed with several companies for consideration.

Whether this is an off-the-shelf system such as the US’s Patriot missile system, or another heavily Australianised system such as the Enhanced-NASAMS for LAND 19 Phase 7B – which in July completed a successful series of flight trials at Woomera in South Australia – remains to be seen.

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