• The Tiger replacement program will be managed under Land 4503
    The Tiger replacement program will be managed under Land 4503 Defence

Updated August 20

In a letter released via AusTender this week, CASG’s FAS Helicopters Shane Fairweather and Army’s Head of Land Capability Major General Kathryn Toohey outlined the way ahead for ad hoc industry engagement with either organisation: it’s not happening.

“Defence seeks to have a fair, open and effective engagement with Industry in support of the Battlefield Aviation Program,” the letter stated. “There will be extensive industry consultation through key events which will be advised through an up issue of this document on AusTender. Defence will hold events specific to each project in order to provide both open briefings and ample opportunities for one on one sessions.

“This is to ensure that all relevant industry participants are treated equally and receive consistent information. These engagements will be specific and focused on each project, and will be designed to enable both Defence and industry to develop a mutual understanding of capability requirements and potential solutions.

“As a result, neither Army nor CASG will accept ad hoc industry meetings outside these key published Battlefield Aviation Program events. Defence may request meetings to obtain information to meet a specific need.”

Army aviation will be managed under three separate programs: Land 2097 Phase 4 - Special Operations Aviation Capability; Land 4503 - Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement (the Tiger replacement program); and Land 129 Phase 3 - Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems Replacement or Enhancement.

The following information was also provided about these programs in the letter:

Land2097 Phase 4 - Special Operations Aviation Capability

Project scope: Land2097 Phase 4 will acquire a new simple, proven and reliable commercial or military Off-The-Shelf helicopter. The light helicopter will weigh about four tonnes and will have a proven ability to be rapidly prepared for and recovered by air transport. The new helicopter will be optimised for operations within dense urban environments which will allow it to complement the existing MRH90 Taipan and enhance the output of the combined formation. The rapid deployability of the helicopter will provide new options for government to quickly respond to terrorist and hostage situations within Australia and the near region.

Key information (see 2016 Integrated Investment Program p100-101)

  • Invitation to Register (ITR) - August 2018
  • Project Update - Land Forces 2018
  • Request for Tenders (RFT) - April 2019
  • Delivery of major systems / support - from 2022 

Land4503 - Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement

Project scope: The Defence White Paper (DWP) and the Defence Integrated Investment Program (IIP) identified that the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) would be replaced by a future armed reconnaissance capability from the mid-2020s. The project identified to conduct the replacement is Land 4503 ARH Replacement. Land 4503 is to invest in a future armed reconnaissance capability which could include manned or unmanned systems, or a combination of both.

Key Information (see the IIP, p114)

  • Project will present for Gate 0 Investment Committee consideration in April 2018
  • Project update - post-Gate 0 Investment Committee (most likely January 2019)
  • Project update - during Avalon Air Show 2019

Land129 Phase 3 - Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems Replacement or Enhancement

Project scope: Land 129 Phase 33 will acquire a new Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to replace the Shadow 200 Tactical UAS (TUAS) from 2023. The new capability will replace the Shadow 200 capability and is intended to provide greater performance with respect to payload modularity, endurance, deployability, connectivity, lethality, and interoperability. The TUAS will be operated by 20 Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment which will grow from two TUAS batteries to three.

Key Information

  • Minor update at Land Forces 2018
  • Approach to market expected in 03 2019

ADM Comment: Without letting my cynicism show, I do think the probity fairy has been too active of late. This carefully worded letter is intended to outline an engagement strategy that takes away any bias, real or perceived, when it comes to these programs. All communication is to be through either AusTender or the events listed above. If in doubt, look at the policy documents in the form of the IIP (not a document you can take to the bank) or the White Paper.

These are excellent high-level strategy documents but they lack the detail that industry needs to plan effectively. This framework lacks the ability to pick up the phone or send an email to a desk officer for a quick query. Business is about people and this framework takes people out of the equation and replaces them with a process.

The line from the letter that most stands out to me is “Defence may request meetings to obtain information to meet a specific need.”

What about the specific needs of industry?

Edit: A keen eyed reader noted that the contact email for the program office was also included in the letter should industry wish to contact the relevant Defence person. When the point of the letter is limit ad hoc engagement, the inclusion of a contact email address is questionable.

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