Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds have confirmed a multibillion-dollar acquisition to expand the electronic warfare and multi-domain capabilities of the ADF.
Minister Pyne made the announcement alongside Minister Reynolds, and said the acquisition of the Peregrine aircraft, originally identified as part of the 2016 Defence White Paper and the 2017 Integrated Investment Plan would "enable Defence to actively strengthen electronic warfare support to naval, air and land forces for operations in complex electromagnetic environments".
"The Peregrine is a new airborne electronic warfare capability that will be integrated into Defence's joint warfighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler, Navy’s surface combatants and amphibious assault ships and ground assets to support the warfighter," Minister Pyne said.
The airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare (AISREW) mission systems aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia – yet another piece in a broader ISR precinct being developed at the Super Base, which is already home to the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
RAAF Base Edinburgh will also serve as the headquarters for the RAAF's fleet of unmanned Tritons and armed unmanned Reaper variant.
"This capability and the people who operate it will bring Air Force a step closer to becoming a fully networked fifth-generation force and further exploit the joint combat multiplier effects on exercises and operations," Minister Pyne explained.
Minister Reynolds added, "The Liberal National government remains committed to opening up new opportunities for Australian small and medium enterprises in the defence industry."
Italy, Israel and Singapore operate Gulfstream G550s modified by IAI with large conformal antennas and other enhancements in the AEW&C role, and the US Navy has also ordered a similarly configured aircraft for range-control work. Various other special-mission G550s serve with the US government and other countries.
"About $425 million will be spent with Australian companies during the acquisition phase of the project, including $257 million to be invested in new facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh. There will be further significant opportunities for Australian industry, estimated to be over $2 billion, in the sustainment of the aircraft over the 25 years life-of-type," Minister Reynolds said.
Australia requested the possible sale of up to five Gulfstream G550 with AISREW mission systems, GPS capability, secure communications, aircraft defensive systems; spares, including whole-life costs of airborne and ground segments; aircraft modification and integration; ground systems for data processing and crew training; ground support equipment; publications and technical data; US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; flight test and certification; and other related elements of logistical and program support.