Defence has been cleared to purchase 850 Northrop Grumman Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare Increment 1 Block 1 (JCREW I1B1) systems and related equipment by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
The purchase, requested by the Australian government, is valued at $360 million and will see the purchase of 533 vehicle mounted and 317 mounted systems, as well as spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; technical exchanges, publications and technical documentation; support equipment; engineering change proposals; classified software/loadsets; training; US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States," a release from the DSCA said.
"Australia is one of our most important allies in the western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region."
The units will be provided by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation, and will provide the Australian Defence Force with increased protection from radio-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) threats for personnel and vehicles.
"Australia is interested in procuring the dismounted and mounted variants that have a modular, open architecture and are upgradeable in order to maintain capability against evolving global threats," the DSCA said.
"Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces."
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this proposed acquisition is part of the Federal Government’s $1 billion investment in counter IED capability over the next 10 years.
“Australian forces have used countermeasure systems against the persistent threat of IED attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this new technology will only improve their ability to save and protect lives on operations around the world,” Minister Reynolds said.
The Government said in 2020 it will consider the purchase of the full complement of systems.
However an upfront investment of $88 million will deliver 80 mounted and 115 dismounted systems, which will progressively be brought into service from 2022/23.
The investment is part of the Government’s broader plan to modernise the Australian Army, which includes new Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers.
JCREW systems are software-programmable jammers that provide protection from device-triggered IEDs. Northrop Grumman developed dismounted, mounted and fixed-site variants to protect warfighters on foot, vehicles and permanent structures.