Patrick Durrant |Sydney
Last week at DST Group’s annual Partnerships Week event in Edinburgh, SA, a five year agreement was signed between the host and Chemring Australia that will enhance Australia’s sovereign capability in the design and development of air-launched countermeasures to defeat emerging threats.
Chemring, which already supplies air-launched infra-red (IR) countermeasures for RAAF aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornets and C-130J Super Hercules, shares a keen desire with DST Group to further work the two organisations have already done in the air-launched countermeasures space.
As missile seeker technology improves, so too does the technology needed to counter it
“We have invested $30 million in our specialist facility in Lara, Victoria so really it’s about leveraging our in-house design and development capabilities and taking a production capability to the next level,” managing director Joe Farrah told ADM.
He explained that traditionally, heat seeking missiles have been mitigated by IR flares deployed by the targeted aircraft.
“However newer missiles have sophisticated seekers that can differentiate between the deployed countermeasure and the aircraft and therefore remain locked onto the original target,” he said.
Farrah said DST Group’s Weapons and Combat Systems Division and Chemring would be working to develop enhanced countermeasures which are capable of defeating these types of seekers.
“There are also other emerging missile threats that we’ll need to mitigate – as missile seeker technology improves, so too does the technology needed to counter it.”
Chemring has just completed its demonstration and qualification effort with the US Government which will facilitate the supply of F-35 countermeasures for the Australian requirement.
An Air Force C-130J Hercules conducts low level training and flare drops over RAAF Base Richmond with Chemring Australia supplied IR flares. Credit: Defence
“We’re hoping to produce those countermeasures next year – we’re also hoping for success in a competition for global F-35 supply of our countermeasures, which would see us ramp up from a single shift facility to one engaged in a maximum effort.”
Farrah said while the company is well known for its air-launched countermeasures, most are unaware of the work they have done on energetics, which are more widely referred to as pyrotechnics.
“We’ve designed our own trip-flares and smoke grenades and other energetic devices for the use of our land forces and so this collaborative effort with DST Group will also enable the enhancement of that capability as well.”
He said the agreement was not only formalisation and recognition of the two organisations having collaborated successfully in the past, but also a representation of an ongoing commitment towards Australian defence industry, especially with respect towards establishing and maintaining sovereign capability.
“Once you’re established as a defence SME, it’s important that your contribution towards sovereign capability is nurtured and you’re not forced to diversify and open up a supply chain selling something that has no relevance to Defence – it’s important for Defence to maintain that capability otherwise it can be lost as quickly as it is started,” Farrah said.
He added that partnerships such as this enable the development of new technologies which can then be exploited for the benefit of the ADF and the economy as a whole.
“That’s what is most encouraging about the signing of this agreement with DST Group,” Farrah said.