After breaking the news last week that the Elbit Systems Australia Battle Management System (BMS) will be withdrawn from service from next week, Elbit Systems Australia Managing Director Major General (Retired) Paul McLachlan has made a statement about the situation. Below is the statement in full.
“Elbit Systems of Australia strongly refutes the security rumours raised in recent media articles. Elbit Systems of Australia utilises secure software development processes in collaboration with the Department of Defence, including the provision of all source code.
“Elbit Systems of Australia will continue to work closely with the ADF to deliver its network capability requirements, utilising our 250-strong workforce, including 80 military veterans and 100 systems and software engineers.
“Elbit Systems of Australia is expanding and enhancing our proven ability to bring world- leading innovative technologies to meet Australian capability requirements for the ADF, homeland security and emergency management agencies into the future,” McLachlan concluded.
Janes has also learned that “Army’s decision does not affect the Land 200 Tranche 2 acquisition contract, which we see progressing as previously agreed to, informed by our technical and financial reviews.”
ADM Comment: This flies in the face of industry sources who note that in the past 12 months the program has failed two security related milestones and the Commonwealth enforced a stop payment point last year.
Elbit must have known that they were heading towards a decision point that was not entirely in their favour. The suddenness and nature of the cancellation however cannot be answered without calling into question the national security aspect. Back doors into such systems are well known and even expected in some cases. What has happened in this case? We may never know the exact nature of the issue at this unclassified level. The is the nature of Defence.
So where does this leave the capability? C4 EDGE is due to demonstrate their concept in November this year (keep an eye out for the June Land Forces edition of ADM for more on this program). The Australian Army selected Systematic’s SitaWare Headquarters (HQ) software to enhance its deployable command-and-control (C2) capabilities in November 2019. There is a good chance this can be expanded in the meantime as well. The system was rolled out to the Army’s deployed HQs operating at brigade-level and above. The Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) – an element of the Brisbane-based 1st Division – was the first element to field the system.
Regardless, the whole situation has left a bad taste all round. Was it the right decision? Perhaps, time will tell. Was it executed poorly? Most certainly.