Melbourne-based Cablex and Polish company WB Electronics have signed an agreement to produce an “Australianised” version of loitering munition system Warmate.
WB has sold over 1,000 Warmate systems that are now in operational service with Poland, Ukraine and other nations in both Europe and Asia.
"We are pleased with today's agreement to provide Australia with a high-quality, affordable solution," said Piotr Wojciechowski, president of WB Group
"The agreement means not only providing the loitering munition system Warmate to the Australian Army, but also strengthening the bilateral co-operation between the two countries in the defence sector."
The project agreement was signed with then-minister for defence industry Steven Ciobo and Polish ambassador Michal Kolodziejski at the Avalon Airshow, and designates Cablex as the prime system integrator for Warmate for the ADF, and "potentially for other nations with which Australia has special relationships, including the Five Eyes partners and countries in the Pacific and Asia".
Warmate, as it stands, is a small/medium loitering munition with an endurance exceeding 60 minutes, with a range of over 15 kilometres and a variety of warheads that can be deployed against armoured or unarmoured targets.
Loitering munitions focus on a target area for some time, constantly searching for targets, which it then attacks upon detection. These weapon systems enable faster reaction times against hidden or concealed targets that only emerge for short period.
WB list the Warmate's uses as:
- Surveillance, detection, recognition and identification of objects of interest (EO/IR payload GS9);
- Detection and strike against enemy personnel (EO-fragmentation charge warhead); and
- Detection and strike against the enemy's light armored vehicles (EO-linear cumulative charge warhead).
The system is canister launched and can be carried by infantry or mounted on armoured vehicles, and is being eyed up for use with the Army and SAS. Both Cablex and WB are proposing to enter Warmate in trials in Australia.
"Subject to the outcome of those trials, Cablex has identified possibilities for Australian sovereign enhancement of Warmate, including further improving its ISR capability for sustained local area surveillance, encrypted linkage into wider ADF ISR systems, improved warhead technology with local manufacture, and a multiple system launcher customised to fit a variety of ADF armoured and protected vehicles," Cablex said in a statement.
Cablex said that the integration of the system of the ADF would lead to the creation of 25 to 30 new roles with the company, based on preliminary estimates looking at local manufacture of the airframe, sensor package, warheads and launch systems, as well as continuing sustainment and upgrades.
"An ultimate goal will also be to provide AFVs such as Boxer with a bolt-on launcher allowing Warmate launch, surveillance and strike operations controlled and monitored entirely from within the armoured vehicle, maximising operator protection," said Cablex.
The company also said it is "in the process" of assembling a team of experienced defence and industry suppliers, such as DST, CDIC, universities and SMEs, to help develop these enhancements.