Puzzle Pieces: Land 19 Phase 7B and Air 6500

Since reporting extensively on Land 19 Phase 7 in the March edition of ADM there is a new factor to consider: Air 6500. Phases 1 and 2 of this RAAF-led program will replace Vigilare and shape the long-range element of air defence for the wider ADF, while Land 19 Phase 7B from Army will look at the short and medium ranges.

Katherine Ziesing | Canberra

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman all received a restricted briefing on Air 6500 mid this year from Defence as the Commonwealth sought to shape their thinking going forward. ADM understands there is an Army person inside the Air 6500 office and a RAAF person in the Land 19 Phase 7B office to make sure the programs align where possible. As to what shape this will take in practical and technology terms, the jury is still out. There is an obvious overlap in command and control systems that will be ironed out as both programs progress.

In the technology space, there have been some developments. Further to ADM’s previous report outlining the contenders and their technology, there has been more clarity around the offerings from industry.

Raytheon Australia confirmed that it will be offering a technology solutions based on the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) technology with a slight difference: local Australian contents.Raytheon Australian managing director Michael Ward confirmed to ADM that the Raytheon offering in this space would be able to achieve 50 per cent local content thanks to an option to incorporate a truck-based CEA Technologies radar. The indigenous radar specialists are best known for their work on the CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT phased array radar systems that have found a home on the Anzac class frigates for Navy.

The Norwegian NASAMS program has been a success for Kongsberg and Raytheon. Credit: RaytheonThe Norwegian NASAMS program has been a success for Kongsberg and Raytheon. Credit: Raytheon

They have been working for some time in leveraging this technology for ground-based applications. The radar system would find a home on the back of a Land 121 series truck, as would the firing solution element from Raytheon. The wider system will be known as MEDUSA in the Australian market for the Land 19 Phase 7 bid when the time comes.

“MEDUSA is the only system that can provide short and medium range capability using in-service ‘dual use’ AIM-9X and AMRAAM missiles, as well as AMRAAM-ER (still in development), providing a single system to meet both Army’s short range and RAAF’s medium range Ground Based Air and Missile Defence requirements,” Ward said. “A common solution significantly reduces both risk and cost in acquisition and sustainment.

“MEDUSA is capable of performing multiple missions, including indirect fire protection and C-RAM sense and warn, and provides interoperability with the current and future Australian Integrated Air Defence System, and with coalition forces.

“MEDUSA is tailored for the ADF’s stated performance, mobility and protection requirements. In addition to utilising Australian protected vehicles and AESA sensor technology, the system provides opportunities for Australian industry in systems integration, component manufacture, and in-country sustainment. In summary, it is proven US technology backed by local integration and sustainment capability.

“MEDUSA is scalable and flexible, ensuring ease of integration of future technological insertions including additional effectors, sensors, and data links. It is
designed for growth, recognising the need to provide for future ADF requirements,” Ward concluded.Ward also highlighted the significant costs of getting the missiles used in Land 19 Phase 7B into the ADF inventory, and how the missiles put forward under MEDUSA have already gone through that process.


 

“Whatever path Defence follows, there are a wide range of solutions in this space.”

 


They have also looked at AI3, another missile in the same Raytheon family under development, which are cheaper per shot than AMRAAM or AIM9X.

The aim would be to have common and scalable systems where possible in terms of launchers and munitions.

Ward would not be drawn on other industry partners apart from CEA at this time, but did acknowledge that companies like Thales and Kongsberg have a part to play. In a statement from Thales Australia, the company confirmed they are “interested” in the program but declined to provide further details at this time:

“Thales is very interested in the Land 19 Phase 7B program, and stands ready to work with the Commonwealth to provide a tailored solution for Australian requirements. “We have significant experience in providing Ground Based Air and Missile Defence (GBAMD) solutions developed over several decades through a range of European and NATO programs, as well as for other customers around the world.

“Specifically, we have a breadth of GBAMD capabilities in mission control, C4I, radar, missiles, weapons and integration systems. Key in-service programs include those in France, the UK, Switzerland, and also NATO’s Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) program.”

US experience

ADM understands that Northrop Grumman is looking to continue collaborating with other Land 19 7A providers such as Saab for this part of the program, building on the work done in Land 19 7A that saw Northrop Grumman provide the C2 systems. Once again, there would most likely be some FMS cases involved given the technology.

Donal Collins, Northrop Grumman’s international manager for integrated air and missile defence, said the company would be looking to build on the systems already in place, and also bring in the approach they’ve been doing for the US Army with the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). US Army soldiers executed a successful dual engagement flight test of the IBCS to identify, track, engage and defeat ballistic and cruise missile targets in April this year.

The test event validated the ability of IBCS to manage multiple threats. The test included joint sensors providing data to the IBCS engagement operations centre to augment Army sensor data for a single integrated air picture, and the IBCS selecting from different missile types to defeat multiple threats arriving at the same time.

IBCS replaces seven legacy C2 systems to deliver a single integrated air picture and offer the flexibility to deploy smaller force packages. By networking sensors and interceptors, IBCS provides wider area surveillance and broader protection areas. With a truly open systems architecture, IBCS enables integration of current and future sensors and weapon systems and interoperability with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defence system.

“Our open architecture is not constrained by anything in terms of intellectual property when it comes to upgrades and integration work for both Land 19 Phase 7B and Air 6500,” Collins said to ADM. “A modular design means we can plug and play new capabilities as they are fielded.”

Northrop Grumman also confirmed that IBCS is not available via FMS at this time, but ADM suspects that this will change as the system matures. Another US program to watch out in this space is the US Army’s Multi Mission Launcher (MML) which began Engineering Demonstration testing of different effectors at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in March 2016, launching several types of missiles from the common launcher.

Tests started with Raytheon’s Stinger and Lockheed Martin-Raytheon Hellfire–Longbow and continued with Sidewinder AIM-9X missiles and Lockheed Martin Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) micro-missiles. The test of Rafael’s Tamir is the first evaluation of a foreign missile associated with the IFPC Increment 2-I and MML.

For these tests, the MML is designed to fire a variety of different interceptor missiles depending on the threat, and is associated with Thales-Raytheon Improved Sentinel MPQ-64F1 radar. When fully deployed, the system will be fully integrated into the IBCS to extend the Army’s “any sensor, best shooter” capability for short-range counter rocket, artillery, mortar and UAS (C- U RAM) defence for deployed forces.

The US Army is doing this work internally and partnering with industry as needed. A statement from the US Army says this path has meant they’ve spent about a third of the funds they would have had they outsourced the concept to industry completely.

Israeli experienceIn terms of brand recognition and operational experience, it would be hard not to mention Rafael’s Iron Dome in this space. Rafael’s system development program officer for Iron Dome, Ari Sacher, spoke to ADM about the system, its development and applicability to Land 19 Phase 7B.

“We had an urgent operational requirement from the IDF and it all came together in less than four years,” he said.

Open source material cites the cost of the Tamir interceptor missile at around the $100,000 mark, a fraction of the price of comparable systems. When asked on how Rafael was able to do this, Sacher was coy but pointed to advancements in the aluminium (rather than steel) body of the Tamir, a highly simplified canister connector, and a shroud that covers the seeker during the flyout.

“The fire, fire, fire nature of the system meant that we had to make it cost effective, and we’ve done that,” Sacher explained when talking about the threat landscape that saw multiple rockets and mortars fired against the system.

In terms of the Land 19 Phase 7B offering from the company, they intend to pick and choose elements of the system to offer in a partnership arrangement. Details of that partnership are still under negotiation at the time of writing. “Rafael will be proposing a system based on the multi-mission capability of Iron Dome,” Sacher said. “The customised elements will be compact and highly mobile, and will be configured for deployment. The system will be designed to work stand-alone and to plug into existing local networks. It will be able to handle all the threats in the Land 19 Phase 7B threat set while in transit, on a beach-head, and at a Forward Operating Base.”

Sacher confirmed that Rafael will be offering a tactical radar, which will plug into the existing ADF radar infrastructure, and the fire control system will have an Iron Dome kernel which will be integrated into existing ADF fire control systems.“The idea is to maintain maturity while enabling leveraging key ADF components,” Sacher told ADM.

Conclusion

Whatever path Defence follows, there are a wide range of solutions in this space. The true test will be integrating the C2 elements across the domains and services. The networked battlespace and the men and women that fight in it don't care where the point of truth comes from as long as it is trustworthy.

This article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of ADM.

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ITS Carabiniere during her earlier visit to Fremantle. Credit: Bahnfrend (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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