The government has announced it has selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia to proceed to the final stage of the competitive evaluation process for the ADF’s Project AIR 6500 Phase 1 integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) requirement.
An August 5 ministerial release says the competitive evaluation process – dubbed Competitive Evaluation Process Stage 2 (CEPS2) – will select a strategic partner to lead the delivery of a Joint air battle management system (JABMS), and to provide the core architecture of the ADF’s future integrated IAMD capability.
“The Morrison Government’s $2.7 billion investment in a sovereign Joint Air Battle Management System will deliver a critical capability to defend against increasingly advanced air and missile threats,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in the release. “Through the competitive evaluation process, Australian industry has demonstrated its versatility and adaptability to provide innovative proposals in the challenging field of Integrated Air and Missile Defence.
“The Joint Air Battle Management System will connect our ships, aircraft, and other capabilities together in a way that multiplies their defensive power.”
Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price added, “Defence found the down-selected companies demonstrated the best understanding of its capability requirements, as well as a strong commitment to developing Australian industry capability. I look forward to seeing the advanced technical solutions and prototypes that will be developed as these companies refine their final offering for the Joint Air Battle Management System.”
The project is a two-phased effort, although this is likely to be expanded to additional phases as the program develops and additional capabilities are added.
Described as a joint air battle management system, Phase 1 will be the foundation of the capability. It will provide the core architecture, and will inform what kind of command and control systems and sensor networks will be required to manage the future air battle management system.
In a company statement, Lockheed Martin Australia & NZ Chief Executive, Joe North said, “Today’s announcement marks the next step in AIR6500-1 to work in partnership with the Australian Defence Force and industry partners to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s vision to transform the Air Force into a next-gen-enabled force through delivering a sovereign highly advanced Joint Air Battle Management System to protect Australia’s security.
“Since 2016, we have been highly committed to supporting the AIR6500-1 project,” he added. “Our Lockheed Martin Australia AIR6500-1 team has steadily grown over this time to over 80 Australians in Adelaide, Canberra and Williamtown.”
“Critical to that effort has been our focus on proactively engaging and establishing important partnerships with Australian industry to identify and invest in ‘best of breed’ local capabilities to deliver a truly sovereign capability solution for Australia.”
“We look forward to collaborating with Australian industry and the Royal Australian Air Force to progress the AIR6500-1 solution as part of the CEPS2. We would like to congratulate Northrop Grumman for also being down selected for the CEPS2.”
In a separate company statement, General Manager of Northrop Grumman Asia Pacific, Christine Zeitz said, “Northrop Grumman’s unmatched expertise in developing complex, multi-domain, multi-mission weapons systems will help meet Australia’s sovereign Integrated Air and Missile Defence needs both today and into the future.
“Working with twelve leading Australian SMEs, like Nova Systems Australia, AOS Group, and Daronmont Technologies as some of our capability partners, we will employ a highly collaborative ‘JABMS Enterprise’ approach, bringing together the best capabilities developed by Australia’s Defence industry,” she added.
Despite not being down-selected, the ministerial release says Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia will continue to participate in the competitive evaluation process, although in what capacity is unclear.
An announcement of the successful strategic partner is due to be made in late 2023.