Australian Army to Get EW Capability

Procurement of a new Australian Army electronic attack capability is set to begin this year. Indeed, acquisition of a force-level EW system that includes an attack component will be undertaken under Tranche 2 of Australia’s Land 555 Phase 6 programme.

Speaking to Shephard, a Defence spokesperson said an RfT is ‘indicatively scheduled for mid-2020,’ adding that this programme will allow the army’s EW capability ‘to be interoperable with joint and coalition partner electronic warfare systems’.

A contract is expected in 2021, with delivery completed by 2023. This is a year later than anticipated when Tranche 2 secured first pass approval in 2018 with the release of an invitation to tender.

That invitation stated the EW system would include electronic attack capable of jamming techniques, electronic support for detection, and C2 for networking and communication at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, and with battle management capabilities.

The spokesperson said Tranche 2 ‘is currently under review to further define capability requirements’, but the new system will be ‘more tailored to specific missions and will allow the Australian Army to undertake more coordinated mobile electronic attacks and support ADF operations’.

The new EW systems will be fitted to Bushmaster vehicles and will be interoperable with EW systems acquired by the RAAF, Royal Australian Navy and Five Eyes partners.

Meanwhile, under Tranche 1 the construction of facilities to support 72 EW Squadron, part of the army’s 7th Signals Regiment at Borneo Barracks in Queensland are due to commence in July for completion by year’s end.

Tranche 1 will procure an additional six army EW systems beyond those purchased under the earlier Land 500 Phase 1 contract.

That saw Chemring Australia provide its Resolve 3 EW manpack system for A$18 million ($11.5 million) to replace the army’s existing Manpack Electronic Surveillance System. The company received an industry capability grant in 2013 to develop a range of military electronics systems in Australia.

The new facilities will ensure the army can support this new equipment in-country and contribute to further EW developments.

The Resolve manpack can provide full-spectrum surveillance to provide instant threat warnings, and direction finding to locate its origin. When operating with other units, it can use angle-of-arrival techniques to fix a target’s position.

The spokesperson said new systems procured under Tranche 1 ‘are required to be suitable for fitment to the Protected Mobility Electronic Platform variant Bushmaster, a trailer or other in-service protected mobility options’.

Elsewhere, the Land 4120 EW Rolling Programme is not expected to seek first pass government approval until 2024. Land 4120 aims to regularly enhance land EW capability based on immediate priorities to respond to emerging threats.

It is anticipated Land 4120 will ‘take an iterative approach to the project scope’ as a ‘multi-decade programme’ to ensure Australia can ‘maintain a technological edge over potential adversaries,’ and that investment in R&D and technology ‘is anticipated to be an enduring theme for Land 4120’.

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