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Combat systems deliver long-term industrial capability development, opportunities

BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia, and Defence have signed a Combat System Integration Collaboration Agreement delivering long-term industry, workforce development, and capability outcomes for the Navy’s major surface combatants.

BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia, and Defence have signed a Combat System Integration Collaboration Agreement delivering long-term industry, workforce development, and capability outcomes for the Navy’s major surface combatants.

As the Royal Australian Navy’s major surface combatants, the Hobart and Hunter Class ships which are centred around the leading-edge Aegis combat system, continue to face increasingly complex threat environment, Australia has identified the need to develop an in-country capacity to upgrade, maintain, and sustain the nation’s combat systems.

At the centre of this is a Combat System Integration (CSI) Collaboration Agreement (CCA), to be delivered by BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia, and Defence which will develop a sustainable, long-term, cost-effective, and agile CSI sovereign industrial capability for the Navy’s major surface combatants.

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Through the CCA, BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia, and Defence have established the Combat System Integration – Integrated Project Team (CSI-IPT).

Managing director, BAE Systems Australia – Maritime, Craig Lockhart welcomed the contract signing with Defence, saying, “Key to delivering the high-end warfighting capabilities to Australia’s naval surface fleet is the design, installation, and integration of the combat management systems into a warship, and that’s why we worked so hard to secure this collaborative arrangement with Defence, Lockheed Martin Australia, and Saab Australia.”

The CSI will be delivered via a $65 million specialist, state-of-the-art test facility built at the St Kilda Transmitting Station in South Australia, announced by the former minister for defence industry, Melissa Price, in May 2021.

The test facility will enable the testing and integration of the combat systems for the Hunter program and will also support the combat system upgrades for the Hobart Class destroyers.

Steve Froelich, vice-president of operations for Lockheed Martin RMS Australia and New Zealand, said, “As the manufacturer of Aegis, the world’s most advanced combat system, Lockheed Martin Australia is proud to integrate, deliver, and sustain this key maritime capability that safeguards our nation together with our valued partners — Defence, BAE Systems and Saab Australia.”

This was reinforced by Rob Milligan, Integrated Warfare Systems & Sensors Line of Business lead at Lockheed Martin Australia, who unpacked the scale and scope of this program, telling Defence Connect, “Lockheed Martin Australia has been building a capability over the past seven years. This will deliver an Aegis hub for the Southern Hemisphere, bringing together a range of human capital that are experts in their field on Aegis. This will ensure that Australia has a highly skilled workforce capable of delivering the capabilities Navy needs.

“This has been part of a long-term investment and commitment by Lockheed Martin Australia to build a highly capable, technically focused workforce that is available when and where Defence needs them and can support the suite of upgrades planned for the Hobart and Hunter Class,” Milligan added.

The CSI-IPT team will comprise professionals from the Department of Defence and an equal mix of combat systems integration professionals from each of the industry organisations, facilitating a “one team” approach.

Managing Director, Saab Australia – Andy Keough CSC said, “Saab looks forward to working with our collaboration partners to build on the over 35 years of combat system integration work we have successfully performed in partnership with the Department of Defence.

Keogh unpacked Saab’s role further, telling Defence Connect, “This is a wonderful addition to a national capability to do combat system integration, when Navy wants to mix and match capabilities, they need a facility that is capable of delivering that unique capability in a classified environment.

“As part of the Collaboration Agreement for Australia’s Major Surface Combatants, Saab along with our collaboration partners provides the interface and integration of the Australian Interface, the Aegis combat system and ancillary combat capabilities into the platforms – allowing for a sovereign combat system integration capability in partnership with the Australian Defence Force.

As part of the CSI-IPT, all four organisations will work collaboratively as a united combat systems team to design, integrate, test, and deliver the integrated combat system for the Hunter Class frigates and the major combat systems upgrade to the Hobart Class destroyers.

Aegis is the world’s most advanced maritime warfighting capability and the world’s only maritime ballistic missile defence system. Above, on or below the surface, Aegis is a complete multi-mission combat system and is currently successfully integrated across 107 ships, nine classes for six nations, including the United States, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and Norway, proving the system is a truly global force in ensuring maritime capability.

Centred around the SPY family of radars, Aegis is a fully integrated combat system, providing full 360-degree, 3D tracking capacity, Aegis is capable of simultaneously defending against attack from land targets, submarines, and surface ships while automatically protecting the fleet against aircraft cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

This integrated combat system serves to establish Aegis as a central component of the Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) providing robust anti-air warfare (AAW) capabilities, with ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities.

Aegis is currently on its ninth baseline (BL9), which is slated for integration in Australia’s Hobart Class destroyers which will provide the Royal Australian Navy with an integrated air missile defence capability that combines sensors and effectors that has continually been improved and added new capabilities to meet new threats, execute new missions and integrate technology.

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