Australia’s first Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyer, HMAS Hobart, has successfully tested a key communications capability with US Navy counterparts.
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During training and testing near Hawaii, HMAS Hobart established secure data links with the US Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer USS John Finn and shared tracking and fire control data across the two ships.
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the trials were a significant milestone in the testing and qualifying of Hobart’s combat and weapons systems, "Australia is the first country outside the United States with Cooperative Engagement Capability, and so this demonstration marked the first time this capability was proven between two navies."
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is a real-time sensor netting system that enables high quality situational awareness and integrated fire control capability.
Commanding Officer HMAS Hobart, Captain John Stavridis, said the visit to the US had proven how closely the Australian and US navies can work together: "Connecting and sharing data with the US Navy like this is an important step in increasing our interoperability with them, especially during linked task group operations at sea."
CEC is a system of hardware and software that allows the sharing of radar and identification, friend or foe sensor data on air targets among CEC equipped units. CEC's two major system functions consist of a Cooperative Engagement Processor (CEP) for sensor networking and a Data Distribution System (DDS) for real-time communications among cooperating units (CU).
Put simply, CEC is a real-time ‘sensor-netting’ system that brings together radar data into a single integrated air picture from geographically dispersed ships, aircraft and ground-based units. This integrated picture improves task force effectiveness by enabling longer range, co-operative or layered engagements.
Raytheon Australia managing director Michael Ward said, "As the Cooperative Engagement Capability design agent, Raytheon has evolved this system over the past 30 years through its deployment across US ships, land-based test sites, E-2D aircraft, and US Marine Corps network systems.
"Raytheon Australia is also the combat systems integrator for the Air Warfare Destroyer program and we worked to incorporate the Cooperative Engagement Capability into the first destroyer, HMAS Hobart."
Ward explained, "The Cooperative Engagement Capability combines radar and fire control data from ships, aircraft and ground-based units into a composite, high fidelity track picture. This technology provides revolutionary air defence capabilities not by adding new radars or weapon systems, but by utilising existing sensors and weapons in a more effective manner."
"These trials are the culmination of 12 months of preparations and demonstrate Hobart’s proven capability," Minister Pyne said.
Sensor data from individual units are transmitted to other units in the network via the real-time, high-quality, anti-jam capable line of sight, DDS. Each CEC equipped unit uses identical sensor data processing algorithms resident in its CEP, resulting in each unit having the same display of air tracks.
Lockheed Martin’s Neale Prescott, Director Business Development, RMS Australia said, "It is fantastic to see Australia and the United States demonstrate Cooperative Engagement Capability this week. In a major step for interoperability with our Unites States ally, HMAS Hobart is the first ship to successfully share sensor information and Aegis combat system data with the United States Navy."
"We are proud of our team’s work at the Adelaide shipyard, undertaking ship integration testing in support of this great achievement," Prescott said.
CEC gives an individual ship the added capability to launch anti-air weapons at threat aircraft or missiles within its engagement envelope based on remote sensor data provided by the CEC sensor network. The CEC system makes it possible for multiple surface ships, aircraft and USMC land units to form an air defence network by sharing radar target measurements in real-time.
"Sharing information like this between ships at sea means that ships in a task group can know and respond to what is going on, including sharing tracking and targeting data," CAPT Stavridis explained.
HMAS Hobart and her two sister ships, HMA Ships Brisbane and Sydney, are three Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers based on the Spanish F-100 frigates. The Hobart Class Combat System is built around the Aegis Weapon System, incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), will provide an advanced air defence system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres.
The vessels will be capable across the full spectrum of joint maritime operations, from area air defence and escort duties, right through to peacetime national tasking and diplomatic missions.