Over the past few weeks off the coast of South Australia, air warfare destroyers HMAS Hobart, and NUSHIP Brisbane, successfully tested the Cooperative Engagement Capability, which combines radar and fire control data into a common picture, allowing one ship to engage an adversary based on the other ship’s data.
Cooperative Engagement Capability is one technology that will form a part of the Australian Joint Integrated Fires Capability being implemented in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Australia is the first nation outside of the United States to use the cutting-edge technology.
Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne said the CEC will see the ADF use existing sensors and weapons differently.
"The new Cooperative Engagement Capability is a significant step-change for Australia as we face increasing threats from cruise missiles and advanced aircraft," Minister Payne said.
"Together, Hobart and Brisbane bring revolutionary air defence capabilities – not by adding new radars or weapon systems, but by utilising existing sensors and weapons in a more effective manner. In the coming years, the Australian Joint Integrated Fires capability will link our ships, aircraft and land-based assets to create an increasingly sophisticated air defence network that can see over the horizon."
The new capability will also see the ADF's interoperability the US boosted.
"Not only does this capability enable us, for the first time, to share targeting data in real time between ADF assets, it will also enable us to share it with United States assets, providing new levels of interoperability within a coalition force," Minister Payne said.
Managing director of Raytheon Australia Michael Ward said it is part of Australia's plans for its defence assets to have distributed lethality.
"This new capability will provide United States and Australian warships the ability to share targeting data in real time. This means a combat system can engage a target that it otherwise could not see, by using data from other sensors," explained Ward.
"In practical terms, this could see the radar sensors from an air warfare destroyer help build the picture that enables a US warship to engage a target – and vice versa. This concept is at the heart of distributed lethality."
The Australian government is planning to integrate the CEC into other ADF capabilities, including the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and its Integrated Air and Missile Defence program.
The CEC will also be integrated into the Future Frigate’s Aegis combat management system together with the Saab Australia-developed interface and the CEAFAR phased array radar, as part of Australia's strategic enterprise approach to combat management systems.