Risk mitigation activities (RMA) undertaken by Raytheon Australia for Project Land 19 Phase 7B are set to be completed this month on time and on budget, an encouraging outcome that the program director says has benefitted from the limited tender-single supplier acquisition model.
Eyebrows were raised at the First Pass limited tender-single supplier arrangement awarded to Raytheon in February last year, the first of its type under the Smart Buyer concept for a major capital equipment program: in this case one with an anticipated cost of up to $2 billion.
Raytheon’s proposal for Second Pass consideration in mid-2019 will be based on the proven Raytheon/Kongsberg NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) that is fielded by seven nations, including the US, and is being acquired by Indonesia, and probably India.
The system provides ground-based air defence against fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems using the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) as its effector.
“As a consequence of the acquisition strategy we find ourselves in a much better position than contemporary programs at a similar spot in the lifecycle,” Colonel Doug Mallet, Director of the Combat Support Systems Program Office in Defence’s Capability and Sustainment Group (CASG) noted to ADM.
“We’ve enjoyed a certain amount of freedom because we know who our prime systems integrator is going to be. It has actually opened things up; we’ve gone to a range of Australian Industry Content and other workshops that we would not have been able to do or be involved in as much, had there been a competitive tender.”
The first stage of the project kicked off in April 2017, comprising initial studies with CEA Technologies on potential phased array radar configurations, followed by a contract signed with the Canberra company to develop a tactical radar (CEATAC) and a larger cueing radar (CEAOPS).
In October 2017, the project concluded a $12.1 million RMA contract with Raytheon that included investigating the potential integration into the final NASAMS configuration of the two CEA Technologies’ radars, and the Thales Hawkei 4x4 protected mobility vehicle.
The Raytheon contract involved five work packages, each formulated to examine risks that had been identified at First Pass and to provide a better understanding of future challenges.
These relate to two options under investigation for potential government consideration; the first a relatively low risk mature NASAMS in-service solution with some potential future enhancements.
Option 2 is an upgraded version of Option 1 currently in development which offers advanced technologies and more functionality within the wider Air 6500 Joint Battle Management and Integrated Air and Missile Defence program.
This includes investigating the potential integration of the CEA cueing and tactical radars to replace NASAMS’ MPQ-64F1 Raytheon Sentinel high resolution, three-dimensional surveillance radar. Both options include the potential integration into NASAMS of ADF trucks and Hawkei.
Option 1 involves a fire distribution centre in a truck-mounted shelter, the Sentinel radar, and a standard six-missile canister launcher carried on the tray of medium-weight trucks equipped with integrated load-handling systems. Before firing the canister must be placed on the ground, powered up and connected to the fire distribution centre.
“The heart and brains of the system is the fire distribution centre; the launcher’s main job is to position missiles in a particular direction and elevation spot to allow them to fire,” COL Mallett explained.
Within the first RMA work package, particular focus was placed on assessing the capability benefits, tradeoffs, risk and limitation of a potential counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) interceptor, given that the large and expensive AMRAAM is not optimised to combat small, non-manoeuvring targets.
“We’re paying attention to a US program being competed by Sky Hunter (a Raytheon version of the Tamir interceptor missile used in Israel’s Iron Dome system), the Raytheon LCAS (Low Cost Active Seeker) missile, and Lockheed Martin’s Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile,” COL Mallett said.
“These are smaller and less capable missiles but they could cost-effectively fill a NASAMS gap at the smaller end of the threat catalogue. So we’re interested in capability, cost, and their suitability for potential future integration to the system.”
The work package also investigated the recent addition of an electro-optical infrared (EOR) sensor that enables NASAMS to engage targets without radiating as well as providing visual raid and kill assessments for operators.
This has resulted in a proposal by Raytheon Australia to utilise the same forward-looking infrared (FLIR) ball that fits under the chin of the RAN’s MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to create a more capable, cheaper mast-mounted sensor package for NASAMS. This would include a self-contained generator and control module.
Option 2 involves replacing the Sentinel capability with the two CEA radars, and utilising Hawkei in two separate roles as the host platform for CEATAC, and as a high mobility launch vehicle.
The standard high mobility launch vehicle for NASAMS is the US Humvee, mounting a six-rail launcher on a pedestal. Unlike the canister launcher the missiles are exposed to save weight, and only four missiles are carried because the canards on the AMRAAM B model deployed by most users are too big to permit a full load.
For the Australian option, Hawkei would provide the requisite crew protection while in transit. Weight issues suggest the same four-missile load would be carried should Option 2 be selected, although the later AMRAAM C model has smaller canards and its acquisition would allow a six-weapon fitout.
The second RMA work package checked whether Army’s current communications would provide the capacity and low latency for the information exchange required by NAMSAMS – data flowing from the radar(s) to the fire distribution centre, from the fire distribution centre to launchers, and from the launchers to the missiles. It also developed an overall system architecture based on internal and external exchange requirements.
Within the fire direction centre the air defence console provides the battle management aspect, fusing information from radars and other sensors, handling track management, and also acting as the fire control centre for up to 12 launchers that may be at widely-dispersed firing points.
“All these things needed to be tested to make sure the systems would work with the systems we’ve got because we’d prefer not to buy more radios and suchlike. It was a case of how can we maximise those systems presently in service or about to enter service,” COL Mallett commented. “With the old RBS 70 solution, the last link in the command and control aspect lay between the ears of the soldier who was pointing the weapon system.”
The third work package checked the technical trade-offs and limitations of integrating NASAMS to ADF vehicles to satisfy Options 1 and 2, with particular emphasis on ensuring that the inputs to the system were as common as possible so as to avoid the creation of unique support arrangements.
This work had proved the feasibility of fitting Hawkei with the pedestal launcher equipping the Humvee, an exercise requiring close cooperation between Thales and Raytheon. The launcher on the Hawkei would run off vehicle power as would the CEATAC, which would also have a battery pack providing up to an hour of energy, COL Mallett stated.
Work Package Four was envisaged but not developed, with no work attached. Work Package Five tasked Raytheon with determining whether the quality of service (track accuracy and update rates) provided by Army’s in-service Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam radar and the proposed new CEA radars would be viable substitutes for Sentinel.
For CEA, RMA deliverables for Option 2 comprised the prototyping of the CEATAC and CEAOPS to allow performance testing and provide an understanding of the production costs and schedule. The company was also been involved in Work Packages Two and Five, assessing the radars within the network and their quality of service.
CEATAC, analogous to the Sentinel, can be mounted on the back of a Hawkei or on a trailer and provides direct fire control and general surveillance which would also feed into the recognised air picture.
Following a series of design iterations a CEATAC prototype was to be handed over to the Commonwealth at the Land Forces exposition this month, with testing getting underway at Port Wakefield north of Adelaide a week later.
CEAOPS, a development of the company’s active phased array S-band ground-based multimission radar (GBMMR), is configurable as either a fixed or truck-mounted system.
“The way we would like to fight NASAMS is to also have a longer-range cuing radar sitting back at a point of entry which can see quite a large distance and give early warning to the force,” COL Mallett said. “I glibly call the Operational Radar an E-7 Wedgetail on the ground; it’s a big radar, it puts out a fair bit of power and it looks very capable.
“We’ve asked CEA to do CEATAC for us first as it will form the critical component of a NASAMS fire unit. If one works well the other one should do as well, it’s effectively the same technology and interface in NASAMS, it’s just different plumbing and packing.”
With Initial Operational Capability (IOC) set for 2022-23 - Full Operational Capability (FOC) is scheduled for 2025-26 - Land 19 Phase 7B is likely to be the first new or upgraded element in the broader-ranging Project Air 6500.
“Integrating Land 19 as a node on a much larger system will not necessarily be complex, you just need the right communication interface and that will be Link 16,” according to COL Mallett. “While we’re waiting for the centrality of an air battle management system we might have more point-to-point interactions with a Wedgetail or an air warfare destroyer.”
With the conclusion of the work packages – a last involved early training on the air defence console for personnel of 16 Air Land Regiment – work will begun on developing a business case for Army to present to government early next year. This will include the outcome of a number of workshops held around Australia by Raytheon in November-December 2017 to engage with industry about supply chain opportunities.
Raytheon Australia Managing Director Michael Ward told ADM that more than 200 suppliers across Australia have now been engaged by his company and Kongsberg to determine opportunities for Australian industry to contribute to the program, with a number of suppliers already identified to support the program throughout its development.
“As the specific capability requirements for this program are finalised, a number of these Australian suppliers and SMEs will be contracted to deliver unique Australian components,” Ward comments. “This whole-of-industry approach to the Land 19 program will effectively develop and grow a truly sovereign land systems integration capability and workforce.”
This article first appeared in the September 2018 edition of ADM.