Volume 37 No. 3 MAY-JUNE 2018
Army gets next gen Battlefield Mobility
2018/19 Defence budget analysis
BROAD SPECTRUM IN FOCUS
RAAF Growler approaches IOC
DEFENCE + INDUSTRY GALA AWARDS The Defence + Industry Gala Awards return to the National Convention Centre, Canberra on Wednesday 1 August 2018. Featuring the Essington Lewis Awards – recognising excellence in defence projects – the evening will be hosted by celebrity MCs Rove McManus and Claire Hooper. This black tie gala event is not to be missed!
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Volume 37 No. 3 MAY/JUNE 2018
Air Warfare Destroyer Xxlessons learned
4 Initial Point 4 Upcoming Events 6 Battlespace
FEATURES & ANALYSIS
16 2018/19 Defence budget summary 20 New Defence leadership team 22 RAAF Growler – IOC to FOC 28 Jericho to JEMSO 32 AARGM for the RAAF 34 Next Gen Jammer – program update 36 Congnition in warfare
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38 C-27J – Big little lifter 46 Super Hornet sustainment on ops 50 Eclips – Next gen logistics 58 Communication in Defence 60 Cooperative Engagement Capability
“Growler touches everything that wants to use the electromagnetic spectrum...” GPCAPT Tim Churchill, page 22
62 IFRS essay – Collins lessons for SEA 1000 Contributors this issue John Conway Chris McInnes Chris Huet Felicity Millar
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Cover: The RAAF’s EA-18G Growler is set to declare an initial operational capability. defence
MAY-JUNE 2018 3
A NDRE W MCL AUGHLIN
first met Mark Binskin in about 1999 when he headed up the then new AIR 5077 Project Wedgetail airborne early warning and control office.
I will always remember how kind ‘Binny’ was to this bograt defence writer who barely knew anything about AEW&C. In 2004 Binny was instrumental in me getting approval from the RAAF to write my first book, Hornets Down Under. As Commander Air Combat Group, he enthusiastically facilitated access to squadrons, aircraft and people to interview for the book, and approved hundreds of photographs. I was also privileged to attend the annual 2004 International Hornet users’ group conference with him in San Diego, and from there I went straight to Las Vegas where I was embedded with the RAAF at Red Flag. Binny recently told a story at a community event that, when he was tapped to become Chief of Defence Force, he was told it should be a quiet tour, as Australia’s large commitment in Afghanistan was winding down. But barely two weeks after taking command in 2014 came the shock news that Russian separatists had shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, with the loss of all passengers and crew onboard including at least 27 Australians. Australia’s response to the shooting down was
stunning, both in its scale and timeliness. Special forces were dispatched to Ukraine to help secure the crash site and to support an Australian Federal Police forensic team. RAAF C-17s and KC-30s provided an air bridge between Australia and the Netherlands (where MH17 had originated) to support the deployment, and to perform the grim task of transporting evidence and human remains home. The following 12 months saw the rise of the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), better known as Daesh. Within six weeks of the fall of Mosul, Australia was preparing to deploy to the Middle East again to support coalition operations against Daesh. RAAF C-17s and C-130s were first to see action in August 2015 when they participated in mass airdrops to thousands of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar and under threat of a massacre by Daesh. This was quickly followed in September by a deployment of six Super Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail, and a KC-30A MRTT, the RAAF’s first air combat deployment since 2003, and its first true test of an organic air task group. Through all this time, the RAN has continued its ship rotations to the Arabian Gulf region to conduct counterpiracy and drug interdiction missions, while Army regular and special forces troops have
contributed greatly to the training and rebuilding of the Iraqi Army. Through all this, he has always found time to send me a quick text of encouragement, or to catch up for a coffee to chat about our mutual loves of aviation, motor sport, and family. He treats all people of all ranks and from all backgrounds with equal warmth, kindness and respect. Binny will retire as CDF on July 6, and like the vast majority of Australians in uniform, he has represented Australia and the ADF for 40 years with the highest levels of honour and distinction. I’m honoured to call him a friend.
A new look
By now you will have noticed ADBR has a new logo and look. Since late last year, we are focusing our attention less on the ‘business’ side of Defence, and more towards subjects such as multi-domain command and control, force level design and integration, next-generation EW, recapitalisation and sustainment, cyber and information warfare, and capability sustainment. All of these will be covered in the context of Smart Buyer, human performance, future and disruptive technologies, and advances in academia and STEM research. As always, I welcome your feedback.
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SUBMARINE INST. OF AUSTRALIA CONFERENCE
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MISSION POSSIBLE DEFENCE EXCELLENCE
F-35 PROJECT NEWS & UPDATES
LURSSEN & AUSTAL TALKS ON OPV FAIL
JASSM MAKES COMBAT DEBUT IN SYRIA STRIKE
ADBR DEFENCE NE WS ROUNDUP
F-35 JSF PROGRAM NEWS RAAF F-35A training systems delivered to Williamtown The RAAF took delivery of two key training systems for its F-35A Lightning II project at RAAF base Williamtown on May 2. A weapons load trainer and an ejection systems maintenance trainer were delivered to Williamtown by an Antonov An-124, and will be installed at the new F-35 Integrated Training Centre which is nearing completion on the northern side of the base. When assembled, the weapons load trainer represents a hybrid underside of all three F-35 models. One side of the centreline is a common weapons bay of the F-35A and C models, while the other side is a smaller F-35B weapons bay. The trainer also features wing station hardpoints, with one side having the common wing and main undercarriage of the F-35A and B models, while the other side is the larger F-35C wing and undercarriage. Using specialised ground support equipment, weapons handlers, or ‘gunnies’ will be able to practice loading and unloading weapons from the weapons bays around the various low-slung doors, undercarriage and open panels. The ejection seat maintenance trainer
resembles the forward fuselage of an F-35A and allows maintenance personnel to remove and replace ejection seats in a controlled training environment. The first two of six mission simulators are scheduled to be delivered to Williamtown in late 2018, with flight and maintenance training scheduled to commence at Williamtown from mid-2019.
RAAF F-35 caught up in US F-35 delivery suspension
The Pentagon temporarily stopped taking delivery of F-35 Lightning II fighters from Lockheed Martin in April, including one aircraft for Australia, due to corrosion issues. The corrosion reportedly resulted from a production error relating to fasteners that hold composite exterior panels to the aircraft’s
A US Marine Corps weapons load trainer being used to teach loading techniques and angles around the F-35’s numerous low-slung doors and lower fuselage. USMC
airframe which was discovered in 2017 during depot maintenance on aircraft at Hill AFB. As a result, the JSF Project Office (JPO) suspended F-35 deliveries for four weeks until an agreement was reached with Lockheed Martin on how the cost of repairing the corrosion would be covered. A US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing heard on April 18 that five F-35 deliveries had been put on hold including three for the US, one for Norway, and one for Australia. Deliveries reportedly resumed in early May after an agreement, the details of which weren’t revealed, was reached on the issue. In a May 10 statement, Defence told ADBR, “Australia’s sixth F-35A, A35-006 was temporarily impacted by a corrosion issue. Australia was closely consulted on the minor delay in delivery schedule. This issue has now been remediated. There was no impact on current training or the anticipated initial operating capability of the F-35A.”
F-35 JSF Program completes SDD
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter completed the nearly 12-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program. The final SDD test flight was conducted on April 11 at Naval Air Station
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Patuxent (PAX) River by F-35C development jet CF-2 which completed a loads data mission while carrying external 2,000 pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and AIM9X air-to-air missiles. “Completing F-35 SDD flight test is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from the joint government and industry team,” F-35 Program Executive Officer Vice Admiral Mat Winter said in a statement. Since the first F-35 AA-1 flew in 2006, the program has conducted 9,200 flights over more than 17,000 flight hours and has completed more than 65,000 test points. The test fleet comprised all three variants from the US, UK and The Netherlands, and these were based at Edwards AFB in California, and at Pax River near Washington DC. The completion of SDD sees the Block 3F operational flight program software load released for operational test and evaluation (OT&E) and should clear the way for the approval of full-rate production. The JSF program has suffered from its share of development issues throughout the SDD process which has seen service entry for US and partner nations delayed by up to five years, but to date no aircraft has been lost during development. Program critics have often pointed to the concurrent process of SDD being ongoing while low-rate production was underway as contributing to the delays. This concurrency has also resulted in more than a hundred early production aircraft requiring structural fixes and other upgrades, including Australia’s first two F-35As which were produced in low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 6 and recently completed their rework at Hill AFB in Utah.
Flight testing of the F-35 will continue throughout the type’s expected 40+ year service life as new software loads, hardware refreshes, weapons and other enhancements and capabilities are added to the aircraft.
RAAF accepts three more F-35As
The RAAF formally accepted three more F-35As from Lockheed Martin at the Integrated Training Centre at Luke AFB in Arizona in March. After rolling out and taking flight for the first time in December and January, F-35As A35-003, 004 and 005 were accepted into the ITC. The new aircraft are the first JSF international partner aircraft to be delivered with the latest
builds experience, it is expected to go through its first F-35A airworthiness board in August, before preparing to bring the first two aircraft home to RAAF Williamtown in December to commence Australianspecific validation and verification activities. The RAAF has ordered 72 F-35As under Project AIR 6000 Phases 2A/2B which are scheduled to have been delivered by 2023 to replace the F/A-18A/B Hornet in service, and will possibly order up to 30 more aircraft under Phase 2C to replace the F/A-18F Super Hornets.
Lürssen and Austal talks on OPV fail
Lürssen, the winning Project SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessel tenderer, announced
Despite Lürssen and Austal being unable to come to a viable commercial agreement on OPV, the Government says its commitment to building the vessels at Henderson in WA is “unwavering”. LURSSEN
Block 3F operational flight program software load. The RAAF’s first two F-35As which have been at Luke AFB for three years have recently been inducted into the USAF’s Ogden Logistics Center at Hill AFB in Utah to receive various structural, hardware and software upgrades to bring them up to the current standard. The growing RAAF F-35 pilot and maintenance cadre from 3SQN are based at Luke AFB as elements of the combined 61st Fighter Squadron. As the 3SQN
on May 10 that it has been unable to reach a viable commercial agreement with Henderson, WA-based shipbuilder, Austal. In awarding the OPV contract to Lürssen, the Turnbull Government had asked Lürssen to work with Austal which had teamed with Fassmer on the OPV bid, while Lürssen had been teamed with Forgacs Civmec. “Lürssen has worked hard to explore options to leverage the experience base at Henderson for the construction of 10 vessels
in Western Australia, including conducting lengthy negotiations with Austal,” the company said in a May 11 statement. “Ultimately, the negotiations with Austal have not generated a proposal that represents an acceptable level of value for money and Austal will not be a participant in the OPV build team.” The announcement comes less than a month after Lürssen awarded Civmec a key role in the assembly and delivery of the 10 OPV vessels. In a statement, Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said, “The Turnbull Government’s commitment to construct 10 OPVs at Henderson, as part of the continuous shipbuilding program for minor war vessels in WA, remains unwavering.” “Construction of the first OPV will commence this year at Osborne in South Australia using ASC. We will have Australian workers, in Australian shipyards, using Australian steel providing the capability Navy needs.”
RAAF P-8A to monitor North Korean sanctions
An RAAF P-8A Poseidon from the Edinburgh-based 11SQN will be deployed to Japan as part of a multi-national force to monitor the enforcement of a United Nations Security Council resolution against North Korea. Reports have emerged in recent months of at-sea transfers of fuel, oil and other materials from vessels to North Korean ships in international waters, and the RAAF P-8 will join P-8s, P-3 Orions and other maritime aircraft types from the US, Japan, and other nations. “The deployment supports the international campaign to address North Korea’s illicit trade and associated networks,” Defence Minister MAY-JUNE 2018 7
A US Navy P-9A Poseidon inside the IBST anechoic chamber at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland where a series of development testing was conducted by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in an LVC environment.
Marise Payne said in an April 28 statement. “We welcome North Korea’s announcement of a halt to ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing and, from (the) historic inter-Korean dialogue, to work for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” she added. “However, along with our partners, we will continue to apply maximum pressure on North Korea until it takes concrete and verifiable steps to denuclearise.”
Poland selects Northrop Grumman Integrated Air & Missile Defence System
Poland has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the US to acquire the Northrop Grumman Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS). The acquisition is the first international sale of IBCS, and follows the system’s acquisition and development by the US Army. Northrop Grumman says IBCS has open systems architecture and provides
a net-centric, enterprise approach to IAMD to replace current generation command and control (C2) systems to deliver a single integrated air picture. To this end, IBCS integrates sensors and interceptors, and provides wider area surveillance and broader protection areas. It can be integrated with current and future sensors and weapon systems, and is interoperable with joint C2 and ballistic missile defence systems. Along with IBCS, Poland will also acquire the Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile as an upgrade of its Patriot system. Lockheed Martin says the PAC-3 MSE features a dual-pulse solid rocket motor providing increased performance in altitude and range. It is a high-velocity interceptor that defends against incoming tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft, and uses Hit-to-Kill technology. Both the IBCS and PAC-3 MSE are expected to feature in bids for the ADF’s Project AIR 6500 requirement.
US Navy conducts development testing using LVC The US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) has successfully conducted a series of development testing on Boeing P-8A Poseidon mission systems in a Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) environment. The test event is the first time LVC has been used for such testing, and effectively reduced the time and cost of what would have been a sixmonth, US$12m (A$15.5m) flight test campaign to less than four weeks and less than a million dollars. “There were two firsts in this test event,” David DeMauro, senior engineer with the Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test (IBST) department said in a NAWCAD release. “It was the first time ever that a successful dynamic Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Interrogator (IFFI) simulation was executed on the ground where both the test aircraft and the targets were moving in a simulated flight environment; and the first time that an entire P-8A was immersed in this type of
dynamic LVC environment to test its mission systems on the deck.” The tests took place in the Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test (IBST) anechoic chamber at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, and used tools available in the IBST Advanced Systems Integration Lab, including the Multi-Jammer Characterization (MJC) Wall. “The resounding success of this testing event highlighted how we can use our infrastructure more effectively – testing both capability and the mission thread,” said Leslie Taylor, NAWCAD executive director, and deputy assistant commander for Test and Evaluation, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). “The cost and schedule savings alone validate the significance of LVC testing in fielding products for the warfighter.”
Govt releases new National Security Science and Technology Policy
The Federal Government released on May 1 its new National Security Science and Technology Policy which it says is aimed at strengthening Australia’s national security. Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne said the policy would be given Government’s highest priority on national security, and that it is underpinned by strong scientific research and the latest technology. The science and technology priorities in the policy include cyber security; intelligence; border security and identity management; investigative support and forensic science; preparedness to prevent and respond to incidents; and technology foresighting. “Australia needs to remain at the forefront of science and innovation, so we can meet any new and emerging
Ivan Zlabur First Assistant Secretary, Joint Systems, CASG
Major General Marcus Thompson, AM Deputy Chief â€“ Information Warfare, Joint Capabilities Group
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An RAAF F/A-18A carries an AGM-158A JASSM on the left outer wing station during clearance trials at Woomera in 2011. The JASSM made its combat debut on April 14 when 19 weapons were launched from two USAF B-1B bombers against suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities. defence
threats to our security,” Minister Pyne said in a statement. “This is why the Government has released this new agenda, which replaces a decade old policy. “We must work seamlessly across government and in collaboration with our industry and university partners to develop the best capabilities for protecting Australia against threats to our national security,” he added. “This policy puts us in a strong position to harness the expertise and resources required to address national security challenges now and into the future.” Minister Pyne said the new policy delivers on commitments made by Government in the 2016 Defence White Paper, and that it was developed in consultation with national security agencies under a high-level steering committee.
Raytheon’s Andrew Whittaker wins 2018 McNeil Prize Raytheon Australia’s Director of Shipbuilding Andrew Whittaker has been announced as the winner of the Australian Naval Institute’s 2018 McNeil Prize at the ANI’s Vernon Parker Oration and Annual Dinner held in Canberra on May 10. The prize is awarded to an individual or individuals from Australian defence industry who have made an outstanding contribution to the capabilities and sustainment of the Royal Australian Navy. AWD Program Manager CDRE Craig Bourke recognised the pivotal role that Andrew has played on the Air Warfare Destroyer program over the past 12 years. “Andrew has been awarded the McNeil prize
for exceptional engineering and program management leadership in delivering Australia’s most potent and capable warships to the Royal Australian Navy,” said CDRE Bourke. “As an example of his leadership, Andrew established, maintained and integrated the engineering activities and technical integrity risk management framework for the program.” In a statement, Michael Ward, managing director of Raytheon Australia added, “The success of the combat system integration activity is a source of tremendous pride for Andrew and his Raytheon Australia colleagues. “Not only has Andrew and his team performed admirably on this program but they have also built for Australia a national asset in combat system integration.”
JASSM makes combat debut in Syria strike Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Strike Missile made its combat debut on April 14 when the weapon was employed against suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities near Damascus. Launched from two B-1B Lancers flying out of Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, 19 JASSMs were reportedly employed against the Barzah Research and Development Centre along with BGM109C/E Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from ships and submarines in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and the Northern Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The Pentagon initially reported that the weapons launched by the B-1s were the longer-range JASSM-ER variant, but this was later
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amended in a subsequent briefing. Two other facilities were hit by a mix of Tomahawks as well as eight Storm Shadow missiles fired by RAF Tornados flying from Akrotiri in Cyprus, six SCALP missiles fired by French Armee de l’Air Rafale fighters operating from France, and three SCALPs launched by a French frigate. The US Director of the Joint Staff, USMC LtGen Kenneth McKenzie told media in a briefing that, despite at least 40 surfaceto-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) shells being fired, Syrian defences had been “remarkably ineffective in all domains.” He didn’t elaborate as to whether this was due to a lack of competency on the Syrian and Russian side, or to cyber and electronic warfare measures taken by the coalition, or a combination of both. McKenzie did note that Russia’s advanced S-400 air defence system had not been switched off during the attack, but that they were “not activated”. Conversely, initial Russian media reports claimed 71 of the 105 cruise missiles fired were shot down by defending forces, while Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told journalists the missiles “successfully hit every target”. Due to the stand-off nature of the weapons employed, none of the attacking aircraft were required to enter Syrian airspace during the attack. The B-1Bs were reportedly escorted to their launch positions in Iraqi airspace by a USMC EA-6B Prowler providing electronic support. F-22s and F-15s were also reportedly employed on combat air patrols over eastern Syria and western Iraq during the raid. The French Rafales were escorted by Mirage 2000 fighters, while the RAF
Tornados were accompanied by Typhoon fighters. Numerous US, and French C/ KC-135R and KC-10 tankers were airborne throughout the attack in the Mediterranean and over Iraq, as were various ISR and C2 aircraft. The 400km range lowobservable JASSM entered service with the USAF in 2010, and with the RAAF in 2012 The attack is also believed to be the first combat use of a Virginia class nuclearpowered attack submarine, with the USS John Warner firing six of the Tomahawk missiles. No Australian aircraft or ships were tasked for the raid. The RAAF maintains an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C/ C2 aircraft and a KC-30A MRTT tanker in theatre for ongoing coalition operations in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Okra, while a RAN Anzac class frigate is currently assigned to Operation Manitou in the Indian Ocean.
UK to order Boxer 8×8
The UK Ministry of Defence has stated its intention to order the Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicle for its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) program.
The statement of intention to rejoin the Boxer program follows 14 years of obfuscation on the UK’s part, during which it initially rejected the Boxer as it couldn’t be carried by the C-130. But the RAF now operates larger C-17s and A400M transports, both of which can carry the Boxer. Armed Forces Journal reports the UK will conduct an assessment phase of the MIV program which is expected to be completed in 2019, and is negotiating with the European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and with Artec, a joint-venture between Rheinmetall (64%) and Krauss-MaffeiWegmann (36%), to rejoin the Boxer program. “As a joint venture partner in Boxer via ARTEC GmbH, Rheinmetall warmly welcomes the announcement from the UK MOD,” Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall AG said in a company statement. “The Boxer vehicle offers exceptional levels of protection and mobility that have been proven on operations, and we look forward to welcoming the British Army into the group of armed forces already successfully operating Boxer.”
The British Army has signed a statement of intent to rejoin the Boxer program and order the vehicle for its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement. RHEINMETALL
Ben Hudson, global head of Rheinmetall’s Vehicle Systems Division added, “We are delighted with the announcement that the UK MOD has selected Boxer for the MIV programme at the conclusion of a comprehensive market analysis and are confident that the MOD will find that a Boxer procurement via OCCAR and ARTEC provides excellent value for money and timely delivery to support the rapid establishment of the UK Strike Brigades.” The Boxer has been ordered by Germany, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Lithuania, and most recently was down-selected by Australia for its LAND 400 Phase 2 combat reconnaissance vehicle requirement.
Army & Defence Innovation Hub select three small UASs for development
The Australian Army and the Defence Innovation Hub have awarded three innovation contracts to Australian industry and research organisations to develop a next generation Small Unmanned Aerial System (SUAS) for consideration for Army’s Project LAND 129 Phase 4B. The three contracts totaling $783,000 were selected as part of the new Special Notice platform trialled by the Defence Innovation Hub, which allows capability managers to call for industry and research organisations to submit proposals in response to specific capability challenges. The three systems were chosen from a total of 47 submissions and 15 shortlisted contenders. “Small Unmanned Aerial System capability enables airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities,” MAY-JUNE 2018 11
After a protracted development program, the US Navy looks set to deploy two MQ-4C Tritons to Guam later this year for the unmanned system’s early operational capability (EOC) milestone. NORTHROP GRUMMAN
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said in a statement. “Ensuring our Defence Force personnel have the most up-to-date, cutting-edge technology supports them in their mission to defend Australia and its interests.” “It is encouraging to see the Defence Innovation Hub, the Australian Army and local industry partners working together to develop innovative solutions to enhance Defence capability.” The three companies are JAR Aerospace which will develop a hybrid vertical takeoff and landing with fixed-wing UAS that will incorporate target tracking, encryption and acoustic sensing and analysis at an extended range; SYPAQ Systems which will further develop its Corvo X SUAS that has vertical takeoff and landing capacity with an extended flight time; and the University of Sydney which will develop a lightweight UAS that combines vertical takeoff capabilities with
horizontal fixed-wing flight for extended speed and endurance. In a separate statement, Chairman of the SYPAQ Group, George Vicino, said: “SYPAQ has now been awarded three contracts through the Defence Innovation Hub – that’s something I’m very proud of. Corvo X is the result of many years of hard work and investment in cutting edge innovation, and demonstrates how Australian industry can meet the needs of our Defence Force.”
LRASM to be integrated with US Navy Super Hornet
The US Navy is expected to conduct test firings of a Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet later this year. The test firing will follow captive carry testing and will lead to service entry of the missile in September 2019. LRASM is a long-range
maritime strike variant of the AGM-158C Joint Air-toSurface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSMER) which has already been integrated with the USAF’s B-1B Lancer bomber and F-16C fighter. LRASM has a 1,000-pound warhead, and uses infrared sensors and GPS navigation to provide the ability to detect, identify and attack moving maritime targets. The JASSM-ER is itself a longer-range version of the JASSM which is in service with the USAF, Finland, and on Australia’s F/A-18A/B classic Hornet, and which made its combat debut on April 14 in strikes on suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities. The three missiles share an essentially common low-observable airframe but have different engines, warheads and sensors.
USN Navy Triton nears EOC
The US Navy’s MQ-4C Triton will enter into an early operational capability (EOC) from the western Pacific island of Guam by the end of 2018. Speaking to media at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space 2018 exposition in Washington DC on April 9, the US Navy says the first two production Tritons that were delivered to NAS Point Mugu in California last year will join the 7th Fleet on Guam by the end of the year, and will progress to an expected initial operating capability (IOC) of four air vehicles by 2021. “One on the way out, one on station, one on the way back, and one in maintenance,” USN Triton program manager Capt Dan Mackin said when describing how the four air vehicles would maintain a 24/7 orbit. “One of the main reasons that the Navy decided to fund Triton was to have that
teaming arrangement, to be able to communicate back and forth between P-8 (Poseidon) and the Triton aircraft,” he added. “One of the primary missions of P-8 is to do the anti-submarine warfare and ISR, not necessarily things you want to do at the same time.” The other limitation to IOC is delays in the integration of the advanced ‘Multi-Int’ intelligence sensors which will allow Triton to replace the ageing EP-3E Aries II manned signals intelligence aircraft. The US Navy has a program-of-record requirement for 68 Tritons which will operate from five operating bases at NAS Sigonella in Italy, Bahrain in the Persian Gulf region, NAS Guam, NAS Mayport on the US Atlantic coast, and either NAS Point Mugu or NAS Whidbey Island on the US Pacific Coast. In the meantime, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has reported the approval by the US State Department for the sale of four MQ-4C Tritons to Germany. The approval for US$2.5bn (A$3.25bn) covers four air vehicles, one mission control station which comprises fixed and mobile elements, a spare engine, mission planning systems, and various navigation, ground support and flight test support systems and equipment. The notification provides no details as to a possible service entry timeframe nor what configuration German Tritons will be delivered in, only noting that it “will be a modified version of the United States Navy (USN) Triton configuration”. Australia is currently the only other international customer for Triton, having passed a Gate 1 approval of Project AIR 7000 Phase 1B in February 2014. The 2016 Defence White Paper
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confirmed a requirement for seven Tritons, and Gate 2 approval had been scheduled for consideration by Government for the first quarter of 2018. ADBR understands Gate 2 consideration has now been deferred until late May, and that fewer than seven Tritons will initially be considered.
RAN conducts CH‑47F flight trials on HMAS Choules
The RAN successfully conducted first of class flight trials of the Australian Army’s CH-47F Chinook aboard the landing ship dock (LSD) HMAS Choules in February. The trials were conducted by elements of Army’s 5 Aviation Regiment (5Avn) and the RAN’s Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit (AMAFTU), and comprised 206 day and night aircraft launches and a total of 66 flight hours. The trials were conducted off the coast of northern Queensland near the Chinooks’ Townsville base, and were designed to determine the Ship Helicopter Operating Limits (SHOL) which define the conditions for the safe conduct of CH-47F flying operations from the ship. “The CH-47F is a reliable workhorse with a great reputation for delivering cargo on time and on target,” Commanding Officer HMAS Choules, CMDR David Graham told Navy Daily. “I am looking forward to seeing them in Choules on future operations.” AMAFTU’s LTCDR Angus Hamilton said conducting first of class flight trials involving the integration of an Army aircraft into the maritime environment was a very complex process with a number of interesting challenges. “The combined Navy and Army flight test team has brought together
the expertise of both the aircraft and maritime aviation operations,” he said. “Additionally, the extensive ship-specific knowledge provided by Choules’ ship’s company, has allowed us to develop an enduring capability for both Choules and the CH-47F.
Airbus & Schiebel test mannedunmanned helicopter teaming
Airbus Helicopters and Schiebel have conducted testing on a mannedunmanned teaming (MUM-T) concept using a manned Airbus H145 and an unmanned Schiebel S-100. Conducted with the support of the Austrian Armaments and Defence Technology Agency, the two aircraft flew a number of different scenarios including the detection of
objects hidden in places not accessible by larger manned helicopters. The tests were flown using the highest level of interoperability (LOI), LOI‑5 which allowed the S-100 to be fully controlled and piloted by an operator in the H145. “Manned-Unmanned Teaming multiplies the capabilities of both systems,” Mark R Henning, Program Manager at Airbus Helicopters said in a statement. “Smaller UAS with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities can, for example, fly around obstacles such as trees or buildings closer than a helicopter could. They are able to explore unknown territory and deliver information to the helicopter crew which is operating from a safe position and which can then step in with the helicopter’s superior effects, having received a clear
picture from the UAS. “Our airborne MUM-T management system will become a highly attractive feature for our entire product range including the NH90, NFH, and the Tiger together with the H145 as it adds an extremely valuable operational capability.”
CHC awarded RAAF SAR contract extension
Search and rescue (SAR) coverage for RAAF flying operations from five air force bases around the country will continue to be provided by CHC Helicopter under a 30-month contract extension announced in mid-April. Under the extension which actually came into effect in November 2017, CHC’s Australian operation is replacing existing Sikorsky S-76A+ SAR helicopters with six Leonardo AW139s,
An Australian Army CH-47F lifts an M777A2 howitzer from the deck of HMAS Choules. defence
MAY-JUNE 2018 13
Raytheon successfull demonstrated an ability to disable drones using a high-energy laser (HEL) mounted on a dune buggy (top), and high power microwave systems (above) at a US Army Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) event. RAYTHEON
the first of which is already in service providing SAR coverage at RAAF Base East Sale. The other AW139s will progressively enter service through 2018 at RAAF Bases Pearce, Tindal, Williamtown and Amberley. “We’ve provided services to the RAAF for over 30 years, and in the past couple of years we also have [won] a separate contract with the Army, and a separate contract with the Navy,” Karl Fessenden, president and CEO of the Dallasheadquartered CHC Group, told ADBR sister publication Australian Aviation in an interview. The contract extension means longer-term all three existing ADF aviation SAR contracts can be replaced with a new single tender, Fessenden explained. “The plan is for the ADF to come together, combine all of that into one common contract, as our contract extension ends, and that will be for probably five or 10 years, so a very large opportunity,” he said. The helicopters are tasked
to provide search and rescue and aeromedical retrieval of RAAF aircrew in the event of aircraft accidents and ejections.
Lockheed Martin awarded USAF hypersonic cruise missile development contract The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$928m (A$1.21bn) contract to develop a hypersonic cruise missile, to match similar systems reportedly in development by Russia and China. A USAF statement says the contract will cover the “design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.” Dubbed the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, the program is one of two hypersonic weapons programs currently being conducted by the USAF
to “explore the art-of-thepossible and to advance these technologies to a capability as quickly as possible.” The other is called the Tactical Boost Glide program which is being conducted with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “Our adversaries are presenting us today with a renewed challenge of a sophisticated, evolving threat,” Michael Griffin, the new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering told US media on April 17. “We are in turn preparing to meet that challenge and to restore the technical overmatch of the United States armed forces that we have traditionally held.”
Raytheon demonstrates antidrone technology
Raytheon has successfully demonstrated the highpower microwave and laser anti-drone capabilities at a recent US Army Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment
(MFIX). During the experiment, the two dune buggy-mounted systems knocked down 45 unmanned aerial vehicles and drones. The high-power microwave system engaged multiple UAV swarms and downed 33 drones. The accompanying high energy laser (HEL) system identified, tracked, engaged and killed 12 airborne, manoeuvring Class I and II UAVs, and destroyed six stationary mortar projectiles. “The speed and low cost per engagement of directed energy is revolutionary in protecting our troops against drones,” Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president said in a statement. “We have spent decades perfecting the high-power microwave system, which may soon give our military a significant advantage against this proliferating threat.” The MFIX event brought military and industry together to demonstrate ways to bridge the US Army’s capability gaps in long-range fires and manoeuvre shortrange air defence.
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A detailed summary of the 2018/2019 Defence budget BY MAX BLENKIN
he government is sticking by its plan to boost Defence funding, with the 2018-19 budget taking the headline figure to $36.4 billion, up from $34.7 billion in 2017-18. As well, budget papers show significant spending on new equipment, although no new acquisition projects were actually announced. It may be that the government is saving such announcements for a time when they will be noticed – at budget time they’d scarcely rate a mention when
the media and community are fixated on hip pocket measures such as tax cuts. The budget does clearly show the start of the big wave of spending on new equipment. Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne said this budget maintained the government’s commitment to provide Defence with a stable and sustainable funding growth path. This takes Defence spending to 1.91 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), with 1.92 per cent expected for 2019-20.
“The comprehensive, responsible long term plans for Australia’s defence set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper, and reinforced in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, continue to ensure that we develop the capability needed to protect Australia and to secure our interests in the coming decades, despite growing global uncertainty and complexity,” she said in a May 8 media statement. Defence spending at the fabled two per cent of GDP remains on track to be achieved in 2021-22, two years
2018/19 DEFENCE BUDGET SUMMARY
All photos DEFENCE unless otherwise stated.
ahead of the year 2023-24 which the government initially forecast following its election victory in 2013. In a budget offering a large number of sweeteners to a jaded electorate which will go to the polls sometime in 2019, there wasn’t much said about Defence in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s speech to parliament. The major budget items include tax cuts for those on lower incomes and significant spending on infrastructure and health. The budget deficit for 2017-18 stood at $18.2 billion, returning to a modest surplus of $2.2 billion in 2019‑20. Well towards the end of his speech, Mr Morrison declared the Liberal and National Parties could always be trusted to keep Australians safe. “Stopping the boats and keeping
them stopped. Protecting Australians from the threat of terrorism. Hunting down criminals. Giving our defence forces what they need to do their job to protect our values and our freedom,” he said. “Protecting Australia from those who seek to do us harm and exert unwelcome influence on our soil. This is what the Turnbull government is doing.” On that basis, the budget security initiative most likely to be noticed out in the community is $294 million to harden airport security, specifically $50 million to upgrade security infrastructure at 64 regional airports. The Defence budget outlines very significant reductions in operational spending, falling from $903 million last year to an estimated $750 million in 2018-19 and under $100 million in 2019‑20. That’s in line with diminishing Australian involvement in the Middle East, with the return of the air task group and the likely end of the training mission in Iraq following victory over Daesh. As well, the reduction in asylum seeker boat arrivals has allowed a reduction in funding for Operation Resolute. Curiously, the budget papers give no cost for Operation Augury, Australia’s assistance to the Philippines military in the bitter fighting against Islamic State insurgents for the city of Marawi. That involved RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft providing imagery and other intelligence support to Philippine grounds forces. The government won’t disclose the cost of this operation “due to national security reasons.” In her statement, Minister Payne said, “As part of our ongoing commitment to security and stability at home and around the globe, the Government continues to fund major operations. “Australia currently has around 2,300 Defence personnel deployed around the world, including on operations across the Middle East and Afghanistan.” However, spending on operations could just as easily ramp up again in event of a fresh crisis somewhere. Traditionally the government supplements Defence for the cost of operations, except for the small deployments which Defence funds from its own resources. The government made no new project announcements in this budget, though there are many awaiting
MAY-JUNE 2018 17
decisions on first and second pass. Dr Marcus Hellyer, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) senior analyst, said the budget contained no shocks, with the government set to take Defence funding to two per cent of GDP in 2020-21. On current budget figures, that will actually be 1.99 per cent, which would appear to be close enough, he said. To achieve that, there will need to be significant funding increases – around $3.3 billion in 2020-21. Budget papers do show $500 million has been brought forward which Dr Hellyer said Defence would repay over the next four years. “Defence gets bills from the US for equipment. Because our financial years are out of sync, we can pay things a bit earlier or a bit later to help out the rest of government,” he said. Dr Hellyer said the big spending on new equipment was now well under way. The biggie is the AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B F-35 Lightning II project, with spending this year exceeding $1.8 billion, up from $1.1 billion last year. Add to that nearly $240 million to upgrade RAAF bases at Williamtown, Tindal, Curtin, and Townsville in readiness for F-35 operations. The first two aircraft will arrive in Australia in early December. Currently they and four other RAAF F-35s are part of the international training pool in the US. Dr Hellyer said F-35 spending would continue to rise. “It is going to keep going up. It will probably hit $2 billion. Spending on Future Submarines is ramping up. This year they are spending $418 million.” Last year, $319 million was spent on the new submarine project. The SEA 5000 “Future Frigate puts in an appearance for the first time but it’s only $52 million,” he said. The government has yet to an announce which of the three contenders – Navantia, BAE Systems Australia or Fincantieri – will build the new frigates, with a decision expected during the life of this magazine. Initial project funding for the SEA 5000 project will go towards establishing project offices in Adelaide and overseas, and beginning arrangements for prototyping design and engineering works at Osborne shipyard in anticipation of cutting steel in 2020. As well, combat system design will start to integrate the CEA phased array radar and Saab 9LV tactical interface
with the US Lockheed Martin Aegis combat system. Budget papers show $280 million will be spent in 2018-19 on the two new Navy replenishment ships, now under construction by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia in its yard in Ferrol, Spain. As promised, construction will start this year on the first of 12 new Project SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessels, with the budget allocating $274 million of the $3.6 billion project cost towards initial work. The first two vessels will be built in Adelaide, with construction then shifting to Perth in 2020 to make way for the start of construction of the SEA 5000 Future Frigates. Project LAND 121 Phase 3B, the replacement of the Defence fleet of medium and heavy trucks will continue with $628 million to be spent in 201819. Overlander will deliver around 2,700 trucks, along with 3,800 assorted modules and flat racks. Another $396 million of almost $2 billion will be spent on the first of 1,100 planned LAND 121 Phase 4 Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles and 1,058 companion trailers. These are being constructed by Thales at Bendigo, with reliability testing to continue concurrent to low-rate initial production. Defence budget papers also list the top 30 sustainment projects and what will be spent on them. Number one is Collins class submarine sustainment, with $592 million allocated for support of the six vessels. From the dark days of just a few years ago when no boats were available for operations, Collins sustainment has vastly improved, with five boats available last year. The aim is to maintain the required capability at benchmark availability, manage timely delivery of upgrades and manage the fleet through to withdrawal from service. The AIR 5349 Phase 1 Super Hornet and Phase 3 Growler aircraft are also expensive to operate. The budget documents show the 11 Growlers and 24 Supers – one Growler will likely be written-off after a catastrophic engine fire in January – will cost an estimated $414 million in 2018-19. That’s substantially more than $190 million to sustain the RAAF’s 71 F/A18A/B classic Hornets, spares holdings for which are being drawn down, and are set for a phased withdrawal from next year as F-35s enter service. Sustainment costs for the Super
2018/19 DEFENCE BUDGET SUMMARY
Hornets and Growlers includes upgrades to aircraft hardware and software, new weapons and training. For Growler a training priority will be introduction of the Mobile Threat Training Emitter System. Considering the propulsion problems experienced by the Navy’s two JP2048 Phase 4 Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships, their upkeep appears unexpectedly modest. The budget estimates $118 million for a range of support activities for the LHDs and their embarked 12 landing craft. The AIR 87 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARHs) will cost $153 million to keep flying in 2018‑19. All 22 are now in service in their final mature configuration. The Tigers achieved final operational capability in 2016, although this was subject to nine caveats. Just two caveats remain – achieving 5,300 flying hours per year, and remediation of communication and mission management system weaknesses. In 2018-19, activity will focus on rectifying those caveats and development of capability for operations from the two LHDs. “Key areas of sustainment activity have focused on the refinement of the through-life support arrangements to reduce overall cost of ownership for Defence and improvement of aircraft availability and reliability,” the Budget papers say. “The Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter is a credible, capable aerial attack and reconnaissance system that is currently employed on operations by key European nations.” In 2017-18, Tigers achieved just 3,000 flying hours, low because the fleet was grounded for a number of months following the crash of a German Tiger in Mali, Africa. The big increase in hours will come from the fleet of new AIR 5428 PC-21 flight training aircraft, rising from 2,200 hours in 2017-18 to more than 23,000 hours in 2020-21. Reflecting the end of operations over Iraq and Syria, Super Hornet flying hours will fall from more than 8,000 in 2017-18 to just over 4,000 in each of the next four years. And with the classic Hornet retirement looming, flying hours will fall progressively from 12,000 in 2017-18 to just 1,500 in 2021-22. While the budget lists flying hours for aircraft and helicopters, they aren’t nearly so helpful when it comes to sea days for Navy ships which only cite “unit
availability days” for different classes of vessels. Major combatants which include the SEA 4000 Hobart class DDGs, Anzac frigates and Collins submarines, accrued 3,795 days in 2017-18, with an estimated 3,147 next year. Unit availability days don’t mean a ship was actually at sea. It could have been alongside but available for operations. Minor combatants including Navy’s fleet of Armidale class patrol boats, Cape class patrol boats and coastal minehunters, do the most work, with 4,542 days available in 2017-18, increasing to more than 4,700 from 2020-21. Unit availability days for the amphibious and afloat support ships, including the LHDs, tankers and supply ships, fall from 1,315 in 2017-18 to just 557 in 2021-22, reflecting planned maintenance periods and withdrawal from service of HMAS Sirius in June 2019 and HMAS Success in June 2021. The budget papers do indicate what appears to be a substantial drop in the Defence civilian workforce, from around 17,800 to 16,373 (21.5 per cent of the total Defence work force) in the space of a single year. But Defence officials explained that this really just reflects the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) transition to a statutory agency, with its personnel no longer included in the Defence APS total. The permanent uniformed force – 58,596 in 2017-18 – will increase steadily, reaching an estimated 61,027 in 2021-22. In line with the plan to increase regional defence engagement, the Defence Cooperation Program is increasing substantially, ramping up from $98.3 million in 2016-17, to $127.55 million in 2017-18, and $163.44 million in the 2018-19 budget. Papua New Guinea remains the largest single recipient of budget funding with $42.7 million, an increase of about $3 million. The aim is to make the PNG Defence Force a more capable, sustainable and professional regional partner. To this end, 35 ADF personnel are currently posted to PNG. East Timor is next, receiving $6.9 million, an increase of about $1.2 million, followed by Fiji with $3.6 million. The Philippines, which received considerable Australian assistance in the campaign against Islamist insurgents, receives $3.5 million in defence assistance, up from $3.3 million. MAY-JUNE 2018 19
NEW LEADERSHIP Government announces new Defence leadership team BY ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
rime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne have announced that current Chief of Army, LTGEN Angus Campbell will be appointed to the position of Chief of Defence Force (CDF) and promoted to the rank of General, replacing ACM Mark Binskin who will retire in early July. Mr Turnbull also announced that the current Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), VADM David Johnston will become Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) to replace VADM Ray Griggs who will retire, and AVM Melvin ‘Mel’ Hupfeld, current Head Force Design in the Vice Chief of Defence Force Group (VCDF Group) will be promoted to the rank of Air Marshal and will replace VADM Johnston as Chief of Joint Operations. Replacing LTGEN Campbell as Chief of Army will be current Deputy Chief of Army, MAJGEN Rick Burr, while the retiring Chief of Navy VADM Tim Barrett will be succeeded by current Deputy Chief of Navy, RADM Mike Noonan. Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies will remain in his role until 2019, as will Deputy Chief of Air Force, AVM Gavin Turnbull.
LTGEN Angus Campbell is a
graduate of the Royal Military College – Duntroon. He has served as a platoon commander in the 3rd Battalion (Parachute) 3RAR, as a troop and squadron commander Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), and as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 2RAR. LTGEN Campbell left Army in 2005 to take up a position as First Assistant Secretary in the Office of National Security, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, before being promoted to Deputy Secretary and appointed to the position of Deputy National Security Adviser.
He returned to Army in 2010 to lead the Military Strategic Commitments staff in Defence headquarters, before assuming command of Australian forces deployed in the Middle East in 2011. He subsequently served as Deputy Chief of Army from February 2012 to September 2013, then commanded the Joint Agency Task Force responsible for the implementation of Operation Sovereign Borders, and was appointed Chief of the Australian Army in May 2015.
VADM David Johnston
graduated from the Royal Australian Naval College in 1982 and later specialised as a Principal Warfare Officer. He has served as Commanding Officer of HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Newcastle, as Director Joint Plans in Strategic Operations Division, and as Commodore Flotillas in Fleet Headquarters. In 2008 he assumed the role of J3 (Director General Operations) at Headquarters Joint Operations Command. In October 2010 he became Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 in the Middle East, for which he was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service.
NEW DEFENCE LEADERSHIP
(CAOC) in the Middle East, Commander Air Combat Group, and Air Commander Australia, before being appointed as Head Capability Systems Division in the former Capability Development Group.
MAJGEN Rick Burr graduated
In 2011 VADM Johnston assumed the role of Deputy Chief Joint Operations Command and then as Commander Border Protection Command. In April 2014 he assumed the appointment of Chief of Joint Operations.
from Royal Military College Duntroon in 1985. He has served as Deputy Commanding General, US Army Pacific, as commander of the 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, and as commander of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). He has also served as commander of International Security Assistance Force Special Operations Forces (ISAF SOF) in Afghanistan, and Australian Special Forces Task Groups in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Strategic Commitments, and as Commander Border Protection Command RADM Noonan was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Navy (DCN) in January 2016.
AVM Mel Hupfeld joined the RAAF
as an Academy Cadet in January 1980, winning the Flying Prize for his year and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983. He flew Macchi, Mirage and F/A-18 fighters, and became a Fighter Combat Instructor in 1989. He has served as B Flight Commander in 3SQN, Executive Officer at 2OCU, and Deputy Director Aerospace Development. He assumed command of 75SQN in 2001, and led the unit during the Operation Falconer deployment to the Middle East during which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the squadron received a Meritorious Unit Citation. He later served as Director Aerospace Combat Development, Officer Commanding 81WG, and Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre
RADM Mike Noonan graduated from the Royal Australian Naval College in 1986 with a Diploma of Applied Science. He qualified as a Principal Warfare Officer and Air Direction specialist, and has served as Chief of Staff in the AustraIian National Command Headquarters where he was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service, as commanding officer of HMAS Parramatta, as Director of Sailorâ€™s Career Management, and as the Chief of Staff in Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 in the Middle East for which he was awarded a second Commendation for Distinguished Service. He has also served as Commodore Training, Director General Operations in Headquarters Joint Operations Command, and as Director Military
Outgoing CDF ACM Mark Binskin joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1978 and flew the A-4G Skyhawk, before transferring to the RAAF in 1984. He flew the Mirage III and was one of the initial RAAF cadre of F/A-18 pilots, going on to fly the Hornet with 2OCU, 75SQN and 77SQN. He has also completed an exchange tour with the US Air Force flying the F-16C, and has logged more then 3,500 hours in singleseat fighters. ACM Binskin has served as Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Force, as CO 77SQN, OC of the Airborne Early Warning and Control System Program Office in the DMO, as Chief of Staff at Headquarters Australian Theatre in the 2003 Iraq War, and as Director of the US Central Air Force Combined Air and Space Operations Centre for which he was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service. He has also served as Commander Air Combat Group, Director General Capability Planning, Air Commander Australia, Deputy Chief of Air Force, Chief of Air Force, and Vice Chief of Defence Force. He is a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), and has been recognised by the Republic of Korea with the Order of National Security Merit, Gukseon Medal, and the Republic of Singapore with the Meritorious Service Medal (Military). MAY-JUNE 2018 â€ƒ21
The path to a final operational capability for the RAAF’s EA-18G Growler BY ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
he Royal Australian Air Force’s EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack (AEA) capability is rapidly approaching a state of maturity, one that will see it achieve an initial operational capability (IOC) in the coming months. The RAAF is only the second operator of arguably the world’s most advanced AEA capability, after the US Navy. While there may be more powerful jammer systems mounted on larger converted passenger or military transport aircraft, the ability for a Growler to be embedded within a combat aircraft package and escort it ‘downtown’ is arguably it’s greatest strength, giving the EA-18G a versatility no other AEA capability can match.
The ADF had long-coveted a high-end AEA capability, but there were few options available to it until the Growler was developed. Podded Elta EL/L 8222 electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems which provided a high level of self-defence capability were acquired initially for the F-111C and later for the F/A-18A/B classic Hornet. A high-end passive signals intelligence (SIGINT) package was also integrated with at least two AP-3C Orions and was reportedly palletised for use on a couple of C-130H airframes under Project Peacemate in the late 1990s. But neither Peacemate nor the ‘8222’ pod have active or real-time force-level capabilities. The acquisition of the EA-18G by Australia was more easily facilitated by the RAAF’s commitment to the F-35 JSF under Project AIR 6000 in 2002, and later by Australia’s AIR 5439 F/A‑18F bridging air combat capability buy in 2006. Both of these projects gave the RAAF ‘foot in the door’ access to highend equipment which had previously only been available to US services. And of course, the EA-18G’s airframe and key systems commonality with the Super Hornet meant it would be more affordable to operate and sustain by the RAAF as part of a larger fleet of 36 aircraft, rather than as a smaller standalone fleet. The path to acquiring the Growler gained momentum in 2008 when the government announced that the second 12 of 24 Super Hornets on order for the RAAF would be preconfigured with a view to possibly being upgraded to Growlers at a later date.
Dubbed F/A‑18F+ by Boeing, these aircraft featured additional electronics racks in the nose and leading-edge root extensions (LEX), extra wiring and databus points in the wings, and apertures on the lower nose, upper mid fuselage, and lower rear fuselage for the ALQ-218 radar warning receiver antennae. The F/A-18F+ pre-configuration cost the RAAF about US$4m (A$5.6m) extra per airframe and adds about 140kg to the weight of a standard Super Hornet, but otherwise they retain the F/A-18F’s full capability. And for the spotters, these aircraft carry the tail numbers -213 to -224. While government considered its Growler options, in January 2012 the Sir Richard Williams Foundation called on it to convert at least six of the F/A-18F+s into Growlers, saying the dedicated EW capability remained the “one missing component of what would soon be the best air power system in Australian history”. “As operations for the last 20 years have shown, most recently in Libya, the ability to conduct both active and passive EW operations, incorporating roles such as electronic attack, suppression of enemy air defences, force protection, enemy order of battle analysis, and kill chain analysis – is critical,” the foundation argued in a statement. Eight months later on 23 August 2012, the government announced it would proceed with the Growler modification at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, and that the aircraft would
be available for operations from 2018. But it soon became clear that another option existed, one which would not take 12 Super Hornets offline for a prolonged period while they underwent the invasive Growler modification, and would further bolster Australia’s air combat capability in the face of ongoing delays to the JSF program. So, in May 2013, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith announced that 12 new-build EA-18Gs would instead be acquired from the US Navy and Boeing. The announcement meant the 24 F/A18Fs would be retained in their strike and air combat role. But as the decision to add Growler to the RAAF’s order of battle had already been made the previous year, some astute air combat analysts saw the government’s announcement for what it really was – the effective acquisition of 12 more Super Hornets. “Simply put, buying more Super Hornets retires much of the risk associated with relying on 1980s jets to form the bulk of our air combat capability,” former Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) senior analyst Andrew Davies wrote at the time. “And buying Growlers off the production line rather than taking half of the existing 24 offline for conversion means that the RAAF will have their most capable aircraft continuously available.” This announcement also meant the Super Hornet was no longer going to be a ‘bridging’ capability, and would instead likely serve a nearly full life
Former Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Geoff Brown addresses the audience at the rollout ceremony for the RAAF’s first EA-18G at St Louis in July 2015. DEFENCE
MAY-JUNE 2018 23
The US Navy’s first operational experience with the EA-18G in Libya led the RAAF to specify the integration of the AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR targeting pod with their Growlers. usN
of type in RAAF service. It also meant the RAAF only needed to commit to 72 F-35s in Phases 2A and 2B of AIR 6000 to replace its classic Hornets, and the Phase 2C decision on the remaining 30 out of a total requirement for 102 air combat aircraft could be pushed into the mid-2020s. This has thus opened up the opportunities for emergent air combat platforms other than the F-35 to be considered for Phase 2C. Alternatively, the Super Hornets could be upgraded to the US Navy’s Block III standard and life-extended to 9,000 hours, and retained until the early 2040s when the F-35’s replacement is due to be considered (see ADBR, March-April 2018). In the meantime, the first RAAF EA-18G pilot commenced his training in October 2013 with the Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island near Seattle. “We’ve started early as there is an awful lot to learn between now and when we begin flying our own EA-18Gs
in 2017,” WGCDR Paul Jarvis, Deputy Director EA-18G Growler Transition team said at the time. “The support that we have had from the US Navy…has been truly magnificent. They have really made us feel welcome as new members of the community.” Over the next three years, an initial cadre of six crews each comprising a pilot and an electronic warfare officer (EWO) learnt to fly and operate the jet with the US Navy’s VAQ-129. Rather than establish a new unit to operate the EA-18G, it was decided to accommodate the Growler within 6SQN at Amberley. Consequently, 6SQN’s role as 82WG’s Super Hornet training squadron was relinquished, and the RAAF moved all 24 of its F/A18Fs into 1SQN. At the same time, the RAAF resumed Super Hornet pilot and weapons system operation (WSO) training with the US Navy at NAS Oceania in Virginia. The production of Australia’s 12 EA18Gs was formally contracted as part of a larger US Navy buy of 44 Super
Hornets and Growlers in July 2014. The first Australian EA-18G, A46-301 made its first flight just 12 months later on 13 July 2015, and was formally rolled out at Boeing’s St Louis facility on 29 July. “It will be a magnificent addition to the ADF’s joint operations, and I predict it will have one of the biggest strategic effects for the ADF since the introduction of the F-111 in the 1970s,” then recently-retired Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Geoff Brown told the ceremony. “Occasions such as today provide powerful and tangible evidence of the commitment of our government and our people to the maintenance of sophisticated Australian airpower.” After first flight, the first two RAAF EA-18Gs spent a few months at the US Navy’s NAS China Lake test facility conducting systems configuration testing which included the AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR electro-optical targeting pod, a capability which is currently unique to the RAAF’s EA-18G. “One of the big lessons out of Libya was to actually have an electro-optical pod on the Growler,” AIRMSHL Brown told media at the rollout. “You can get the electronic emissions, see where something is, and get eyes on with a pod.” Apart from being the first Australian Growler, A46-301 also represented another milestone, as it was the 100th Hornet airframe built for the RAAF which had previously taken delivery of 75 F/A-18A/B classic Hornets and 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets. The remainder of the EA-18G fleet was placed in temporary storage with Boeing in St Louis as aircrew training progressed at Whidbey Island. The 2017 Avalon Airshow marked the first appearance of RAAF Growlers in Australian skies, with two jets being placed on static display for the show. Deliveries of the remaining 10 aircraft progressed, until the final jets were formally welcomed to their home base of RAAF Amberley on 7 July 2017. “Australian Growlers have already conducted successful weapon firings and integration flights with RAAF F/A18F Super Hornets and US Navy EA-18G Growlers as part of operational test and evaluation,” Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL ‘Leo’ Davies said in a statement. “We have also had the graduation of the first operational transition course. Through our partnership with the US Navy, we are already planning to keep Growler at the forefront of electronic attack capability throughout the life of the aircraft.”
Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne added, “We are the only country outside the United States operating the EA-18G Growler, and the full fleet arrival represents a significant leap forward in joint electronic warfare capability. The EA-18G Growlers will work with Army and Navy to deliver a networked jointforce able to manoeuvre and fight in the electromagnetic spectrum.”
IOC to FOC
In order to successfully integrate the EA-18G into the ADF’s new force-level integrated way of doing business, the RAAF has had to do things differently. “In a traditional project sense, we’re used to having a project sponsor who goes and gets the money, and a project delivery team to go and deliver the product,” the Director of the Growler Transition Office (GTO) and OC 82WG, GPCAPT Tim Churchill told ADBR. “But additionally, Air Force has done a good thing by setting up a business change management process. Where previously the RAAF had just focused in integrating a new capability into the air force, the Growler will ultimately be a whole-of-ADF (and beyond) capability. “Growler basically touches everything that wants to use the electromagnetic spectrum, so we have to do a lot of coordination outside that sort of traditional air force stuff,” GPCAPT Churchill added. “As you can imagine with EW, there’s a lot of intel support going on in other agencies, so they also have a stake. “So, while the aircraft might look very similar to a Super Hornet, and the environment which we fly it in, the role is completely different. We’ve never done airborne electronic attack before in Australia, so there is a lot of change required in places where people don’t normally expect it. Like a swan, from the upside it looks easy, but there is lots of paddling underneath.” Well before the fleet was delivered in 2017, the RAAF through the GTO has kept the project on track and expects to declare IOC in the next couple of months. “As we told government several years ago, I assess we are looking very good to declare IOC mid-year,” he said. “There’s still some risk with that, but it’s acceptable risk. Since Avalon we’ve been kicking more goals, so that’s looking good.” Growler’s final operational capability (FOC) goal has conservatively been scheduled to occur in 2022, as based on recent experience the RAAF is
cognisant of the time it can take to grow a new capability from scratch. “We have a milestone for FOC of 2022, and that hasn’t changed,” GPCAPT Churchill explained. “The reason why is very similar to what we did with Wedgetail; generating this capability from nothing was going to take a long time. In particular, growing the number of humans that are required in this specialty, as well as all the other bits and pieces. “We’ve set up a crawl, walk, run, approach like Wedgetail did, and the FOC capability is about having that larger number of crews that can sustain higher sortie generation rates and can go into contested environments with all the pieces of a puzzle in place.” At IOC, 6SQN will be capable of conducting what GPCAPT Churchill describes as limited force-level EW, primarily for peacetime national tasking or other regional emergencies. The development path to FOC will see the capability developed to where the EA18G can be taken into more contested conflicts and to conduct operations with higher sortie rates, before ultimately being able to conduct simultaneous operations in two locations. While the Growler’s published programmatic phases have a traditional look, this has mainly been retained in order to fit within CASG’s and the RAAF’s approaches to government for
funding. “In terms of delivery, we don’t describe these as delivery phases,” explained GPCAPT Churchill. “Our phasing between IOC and FOC is those interim steps as we go up in capability. “One of the things that you could imagine we need to build up is our Australian training capability,” he said. “That’s a big body of work and is a firstof-type for Australia, because we don’t have an EW range like the US does. “While we bought the Growler off the US Navy they’re not in the business of exporting ranges, so we have had to learn how to do that. I certainly see the vision of building an EW training range in Australia as viable and strong, it’s just we’ve got to carefully check and manage all the risks as they come through. “That said, I have nothing but overwhelming thanks for US Navy and our partners who have been more than helpful in passing on their intellectual property for how this is done. And we’ve had very good advice from people who have said, ‘Don’t just cut and paste what you see here in the US’. They have had to grow and adapt with add-ons, but if they could start from scratch they would have designed things differently.” The RAAF will also adopt a different concept of operations (CONOPS) model to that of the US Navy, not just because the scales of the two services are vastly different, but because each has
GPCAPT Tim Churchill (left) assumes command of 82 Wing from GPCAPT Glen Braz in a November 2017 ceremony at RAAF Amberley. DEFENCE
MAY-JUNE 2018 25
The RAAF’s 12th EA-18G was welcomed to Amberley in July 2017 by (L-R) Air Commander Australia AVM Steve Roberton, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne, Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Leo Davies, CO 6SQN WGCDR Grant Fifield, and then OC 82WG, GPCAPT Glen Braz. DEFENCE
different strengths and weaknesses. “We are definitely well informed by what US Navy does, but we’ve got a different force structure,” GPCAPT Churchill explained. “Obviously we don’t have everything that they have, but we’ve got some additional things that they don’t have. A clear example of our integration into the ADF is working with the E-7 Wedgetail, and with our ships which aren’t necessarily US Navycommon. “So, we’re continually exercising and testing just to make sure that, at the tactical level and the messagepassing level that the machines and the systems can operate together as we think, and that we are building up our collective knowledge. “Most of the ADF has never dealt with Growler before, so now we’re doing collective training of how to best take advantage of that,” he added. “So, we have a lot of doctrine to write, a lot of concepts to develop. We’re informed by US Navy, but not constrained by it.”
76SQN (see ADBR, Jan-Feb 2018), and putting them straight into the US Navy training system. “We designed it such that we could get that nice pyramid of experience to make sure that we had a whole bunch of junior people going straight through,” explained GPCAPT Churchill. “There’s only a sprinkling of ‘re-treads’ from other types, and the vast majority going into the system now have come through 76SQN. “Our intent going forward is to retain that sprinkling of experienced people, and maybe there might be a Growler person that goes on to F-35 as well,” he added. “But in the main, we’re trying to get a good, balanced workforce so it’s sustainable going forward, and so we can build on it.” GPCAPT Churchill is cognisant of the benefits of building an aircrew cadre with a diversity of experience levels and operations on different aircraft types. “An example of that is, we’ve pulled in
The best elements of how the US does EW business will continue to be informed by RAAF crews as they return from US Navy Growler exchange postings. Before 2017 there were three RAAF crew operational exchange slots, and two more instructor crews. The first RAAF Growler crews were primarily drawn from crews experienced on other types so far, including Super Hornet and classic Hornet. But the GTO is now drawing crews from the fast jet operational conversion course at
people from Surveillance Response Group who have had EW experience to add value in that sense. So, it’s not just fighter guys we’re looking at, it’s more enriched than that.” New Growler crew go into the US Navy training system at VAQ-129, the US Navy’s West Coast EA-18G Fleet Replenishment Squadron (FRS) based at Whidbey Island, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. “For those humans, they are taught to fly US Navy-style,” GPCAPT Churchill said. “There is an Australian ‘course mum’ over there to mentor and look after them, but fundamentally they pass a US Navy course. Then what we’ve built here is an operational transition for when they get back, to ‘Australianise’ them so to speak. “So, they’ll learn to speak Australian on the radios again, and to understand Australian air-to-air tactics, which are the big difference,” he added. “The way we operate is more like the US Air Force – we don’t have large aircraft carriers which is what US Navy tactics are broadly built around.” Maintenance training on the Growler is now conducted at Amberley after the initial maintenance cadre was trained at Whidbey Island. “Our concept was ‘train the trainer’,” GPCAPT Churchill said. “So, we first got a whole bunch of smarts over there, and now the training for maintenance is done here in house. “We do our operational maintenance here now,” he added. “There are obviously some security policies which means elements of our deeper maintenance has to be conducted in the US, but as far as our uniformed maintenance is concerned it’s the electronic warfare kit that’s a little bit different.” Another element of FOC will be a new headquarters and maintenance building for 6SQN at Amberley which takes into account the higher security
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of 6SQN in 2017, the RAAF unveiled a specially painted Growler.
requirements for operating Growler. The new building will mirror that of the newer 1SQN building which was built for the Super Hornets, as the current 6SQN facilities had been refurbished from the F-111 days.
GPCAPT Churchill says the RAAF will stay in lockstep with the US Navy as it upgrades its Growler fleet. Apart from the Next Generation Jammer which is described in more detail on page 34 of this issue, the US Navy’s larger Growler Block II spiral upgrade program will add numerous other enhancements that mirror those of the Super Hornet Block III. “Every couple of years there will be a new capability upgrade,” he said. “Similar to the F-35 where they talk about their block upgrades, Growler will also have block upgrades. “There is definitely a requirement to keep evolving these platforms, because the electromagnetic spectrum is increasingly congested, contested, and dynamic,” he said. “By dynamic I mean it is largely software-defined, so it can look one way and then the next second it can look completely different. Our people in the program are getting some visibility on those things now, and this is helping us to understand them so we can bring forward proposals to government.” Although it’s still early days, the RAAF has also started educating the Growler’s wider ‘customer base’ about what the aircraft can bring to the fight. “We’re still a really small team but, by its very nature Growler has to integrate with everything from three letter agencies all the way down to all of the tactical entities that it could protect,”
The RAAF’s first two Growlers arrive at Avalon in 2017 for static display. DEFENCE
GPCAPT Churchill explained. “So, we’ve started to salami-slice ourselves to go out and engage and educate people,” he added. “In order to prioritise our work, we’ve taken a riskbased approach. There’s a lot of people who haven’t had a brief yet, but that’s not because they’re not important, it’s just because there are other things that are more important to get the capability up and running.” In closing, the RAAF Growler community had a major setback in January when one of their aircraft suffered a catastrophic engine failure during takeoff at Nellis AFB in Nevada
A long lens photo taken off-base of the RAAF EA-18G at Nellis AFB after its catastrophic engine fire in late January. Defence is yet to announce a decision as to its future. BARRY AMBROSE
during their first Red Flag exercise. The aircraft’s crew reportedly did a remarkable job to stay with the aircraft and to keep it away from large numbers of parked aircraft nearby, as it was only seconds away from rotating. Unofficial pictures of the aircraft showed it at rest off the right-hand side of Nellis’ eastern runway with large amounts of damage to the rear fuselage, right vertical stabiliser, undercarriage, and right wing. While the possible loss of an airframe will obviously hurt the RAAF, the loss of a number of AN/ALQ-99 jammer pods which the aircraft was carrying is a blow to the wider Growler community, as production of these pods ended over a decade ago. But while the damage assessment of the aircraft has been completed, a formal decision on the aircraft’s future is yet to be made. “We know that the accident was a right engine failure on takeoff,” GPCAPT Churchill said. “It was uncontained, and there was a component failure which we think very likely caused the engine failure, but the report will determine exactly why. “To see one of our jets like that was upsetting,” GPCAPT Churchill said. “I guess I feel quite paternal about that. But what I can say is that the aircraft was extensively damaged, and the people who inspected it have done their reports for defence to make a decision.” MAY-JUNE 2018 27
JERICHO MEETS JEMSO
Australia is ideally placed to take the lead in building an integrated Joint force to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum
BY JOHN CONWAY
esides Jericho, there is another seven-letter, threesyllable word, beginning with ‘J’ currently doing the rounds in Defence circles – JEMSORA. Under a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives last month, the US military would be obligated to ensure access to the electromagnetic spectrum and protect the communication and navigation systems enabling National Defense Strategy. In short, JEMSORA would direct the US military to develop EW integrating capabilities, conduct modelling and war-gaming scenarios for joint electromagnetic spectrum operations (JEMSO), and ensure accountability to government. So why the urgency and why enshrine JEMSO readiness in law? Like the RAAF’s Plan JERICHO, JEMSORA is all about building relationships and reminding people that EW interoperability starts with leadership and policy, not technology. Integration and interoperability mean
different things to different people, but there should be a general agreement, at least, that they involve both humans and technology working together as a team.
New warfighting domains
The electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is the physical environment that includes electronic radiation produced by radios, radars, mobile phones, navigation systems, and other types of military equipment. Modern warfare requires protected access to the EMS while simultaneously denying its use by the enemy through activities like jamming and deception. And while EW has been defined traditionally in military terms by action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the EMS, the three major sub-divisions within electronic warfare - electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support - are becoming increasingly relevant outside the military. Examples including wireless
networks in the workplace, mobile phones, commercial applications of the Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and driverless vehicles of the future are all highly vulnerable to EW. In fact, the EMS is fast maturing as a warfighting domain in its own right. For some countries like Russia, EW is not just a part of their strategy; it is their strategy. This means countries like the US and Australia need the ways and means of synchronising superior capabilities in the physical domains with the next generation of EW and cyber capabilities in the information domain.
Force level EW and JEMSO
The physical and non-physical elements of the battlespace come together at the operational, or whole-of-force level. Force-level EW, or FLEW, represents the integration of traditional EW capability with strategic and tactical ISR, intelligence, and EW battle-management functions, including command and control. FLEW assets such as the EA-18G
JERICHO MEETS JEMSO
a sophisticated and integrated approach to the development of future EW capability. GPS, datalinks and satellite communications have been taken for granted for too long; future operations are likely to play out in environments where GPS, voice and other communication links are at best degraded, and at worst completely denied. Future operations will involve a contest to gain control of the EMS with the same urgency as control of the air. The recent strike against suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities signalled a clear shift towards sophisticated, multi-domain operations. But as highlighted in the recent Sir Richard Williams Foundation Seminar, there is a world of difference between a single strike and a sustained highintensity conflict against a near-peer aggressor with advanced EW capability.
Taking the lead
Growler conduct missions in isolation or provide real-time tactical support to other platforms and ground forces to improve mission effectiveness across the air, land, maritime, space and cyberspace domains. The central and essential integrating capability for FLEW is JEMSO. JEMSO synchronises spectrum access and deconfliction activities with the intelligence, ISR, and targeting aspects of EW needed to control FLEW assets. It also provides the humanmachine interface with the commander to enable and support the operational decision-making processes. But JEMSO is only a means to an end. The Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Readiness Act 2018 was cosponsored by Congressman Don Bacon – House Armed Services Committee member and Electronic Warfare Working Group Co-Chair - and Jimmy Panetta, recognising the US military has become “increasingly dependent on electromagnetic spectrum access across all domains”. What Congressman Bacon basically said was the US military concept of operations could be dismantled by brute force EW without
There are of course implications for Australia, given the Commonwealth’s investment in advanced and predominantly US-sourced EW capability such as the EA-18G Growler. However, our policy backdrop is far more favourable than the US and is enhanced even further by the recent release of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan and the new Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities. Australian Defence policy now prioritises several EW-related capabilities, such as enhanced active and passive phased array radars, signature reduction technologies, advanced signal processing, cyber and information security, signature management, complex systems integration, and test, evaluation, certification and systems assurance. Much of this is highly leveraged to JEMSO. Within the next few years Australia will have some of the best EW technology available. Like it or not Australia is now an EW leader, not a follower; and the emerging challenge is to ensure we have the capability frameworks in place at an enterprise level to exploit a significant strategic advantage. The associated opportunities for industry and academia, especially in the delivery of EW-enabling capabilities are massive. “In the next five years Australian EW capability will transform from being largely focused on platform self-protection to a potent joint force capability comprising both defensive and offensive capabilities,” CEO
of specialist EW services provider AeroPM, Emily Frizzell says. “This will require integration, not just with other EW capabilities but with the next generation of ISR platforms and C2 systems in the air, land, maritime, space and cyber domains”. The US interoperability challenges are complicated by the sheer scale of the US military machine and its many competing and disparate stakeholders. Everyone knows EW integration can be hard at the best of times, but the complexity is compounded by the diverse range of older analogue systems which need to be integrated with newer technology digital platforms. Architecture-led EW integration is easy to say but almost impossible to execute if the policy is not there to say ‘you must resource it and, above all, do it’. The ADF is much better placed than the US both in terms of the scale and modernity of our new EW systems. The ADF’s ongoing equipment recapitalisation brings many dividends – a lesson we should enshrine in future force design.
Lost the edge
Congressman Bacon is quite specific in his assessment, saying, “We have lost our edge in this critical domain and need to quickly restore readiness in the electromagnetic spectrum to ensure we can execute the National Defense Strategy.” Out of necessity some say, US EW capability was traded-off to protect bigger ticket platform procurements and, of course we cannot ignore the reality of sequestration when the service chiefs had to think the unthinkable. But in the process, US EW was substantially relegated to platform self-protection to ensure survival of the force structure. The lack of advocacy and informed contestability at the joint level meant there were limited checks and balances in place to assess the impact on mission effectiveness and strategic outcomes. The result was a fragmented EW capability and an obvious vulnerability which has now been exploited with potentially catastrophic consequences. JEMSORA will be a key policy driver for EW integration in the US. Without it, process, technology and organisational friction will continue to characterise the EW problem. Single service needs, of course will continue to be critical and must be underpinned by domain expertise, but the future fight needs EW integration at the force level MAY-JUNE 2018 29
While the headline acts of the raid against suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites were the USAF B-1B Lancer and the Tomahawk and JASSM cruise missiles, it is likely other key capabilities played an equally important but non-kinetic role. usaf
involving joint service co-operation and a means of replicating the single service attitudes to test, experimentation and training excellence.
All is not lost
While acknowledging it has lost its edge, the US still has a highly sophisticated EW capability by any standard. It just so happens Russia and China have closed the gap by investing heavily in EW for the past two decades, while the US and its allies fought tactical counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Russians recognise the asymmetric potential of EW especially when integrated with cyber operations; they base entire operational concepts around EW rather than it being an afterthought. But there is more than an element of brute force about Russian EW, and they are a long way from integrated multi-domain operations which characterised the recent strike on Syria. Open source intelligence suggests the recent US-led strike in Syria was a significant shift from the playbook of the last two decades. Stand-off long-range ‘kinetic’ cruise missile attacks against highly-defended targets on the ground hit the front pages, but further analysis indicates this was a multi-agency, multi-
axis, multi-domain attack which rendered the Russian-built Syrian air defence systems impotent, albeit temporarily. This time there were no tactical strikes from US carriers; it was a powerful message, not just to Syria and its allies, as well as others who may have been watching, that anti-access strategy is easier said than done. It is highly likely the strike involved ‘non-kinetic’ activities by Prowler, Compass Call, Rivet Joint and Miniature Air Launched Decoys (MALD) to name but a few US EW capabilities, which caused havoc in the EMS while the cruise missiles flew unimpeded to their targets, while activity in the cyber domain would have added to the confusion. Images of deceived Syrian air defences firing blindly into the night sky was clear evidence they were completely overwhelmed and powerless to prevent the attack.
This kind of attack is enabled by JEMSO and, more broadly a sophisticated multi-domain command and control capability, MDC2. MDC2 goes beyond the traditional definitions of C4ISR and, most importantly, recognises that technology is only part of the problem.
The answer lies beyond the traditional science and technologycentric view of EW. This is an operational problem which cannot be solved by technology alone. Emily Frizzell agrees, “As an engineer, it has become increasingly obvious to me that future EW problem-solving will require a new approach involving integrated teams. There will be an ongoing need for EW engineering specialists, but they will also need to be part of multi-disciplinary groups working alongside the warfighters given the complex and dynamic nature of the future battlespace.” Australian EW-related thoughtleadership is well underway. In 2018, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation facilitated an EW seminar on the need for ‘A new approach and attitude to EW’. While giving a nod to the future technology aspects of EW, the seminar also addressed the human aspects. Not just cognitive EW, but more fundamental issues like how to get the workforce balance right between EW specialists and EW generalists. EW is moving further into mainstream military activities and is converging with adjacent concepts in the space and cyber domains. Building
JERICHO MEETS JEMSO
EW competency at the individual and organisational level is a priority, but it will take time. Meanwhile, as the organisation builds competency in complex EW capability people will need their career expectations to be met. Sadly, EW has traditionally been a career dead-end; it is a very rewarding and professionally challenging way to spend your time in uniform, but the reality is that it rarely gets you promoted. Until now?
Learning from cyber
For most of us, warfighting in the EMS remains a difficult concept to grasp. Making the case to the public about the susceptibility of your smart phone, watch or car to electronic attack is one thing, but building a case for government project approvals in complex, integrated EW involving JEMSO takes it to another level. The cyber community has been very successful in making cyber relevant to a much broader group of people outside specialist pockets of expertise in Defence. The emergence of airborne electronic attack, and the convergence of EW with cyber provides a great opportunity to leverage a broader audience and bring EW into mainstream Defence thinking and planning. And, once again, Australia is extremely well placed from both a policy and organisational standpoint. Chief of Joint Capabilities AVM Warren McDonald addressing the 2018 RAAF Airpower Conference in Canberra. DEFENCE
A USAF RC-135U Rivet Joint of the kind that likely played a key role in supporting the raid against suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites. This and the roles played by RQ-4B Global Hawk, EC-130 Compass Call, EA-6B Prowler and other non-kinetic assets contributed to a largely ineffecivte Syrian air defence response. usaf
Move over EW, meet Information Warfare!. Reporting to the Chief of Joint Capabilities AVM Warren McDonald, the Information Warfare Division was formed in July 2017 as a result of the formation of the Australian Defence Force Headquarters. Headed by the Deputy Chief Information Warfare MAJGEN Marcus Thompson, it comprises four branches – Information Warfare Capability, C4 and Battle Management Capability, Capability Support Directorate, and the Joint Cyber Unit. The Information Warfare Division provides a focal point for FLEW and essential integrating elements such as JEMSO. For want of a better term, it operationalises FLEW and ensures the focus on effect rather than technology.
Integrated, multi-domain operations provide the all-important context for the development of Australian EW as part of an advanced Information Warfare capability which complements the significant investment in the physical weapon systems which characterise the air, land, maritime, and space domains. The Commonwealth should be congratulated for the way in which it has comprehensively set the conditions for future operational success by ensuring the policy and organisation frameworks are in place to exploit an extremely wise and sophisticated investment in Information Warfare capability. There is still much to be done in
terms of developing the enabling Multi-Domain Command and Control capability including JEMSO. Not least, the development of the training, test and experimental capability necessary to achieve the levels of proficiency needed to counter an increasingly sophisticated and fastmoving threat. The future opportunities for Australian industry are significant and involve SMEs and primes in equal measure. The Defence Industrial Capability Plan and the new Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities provide the foundation for Australian industry to play their part creating one of the world’s most modern and effective Information Warfare capabilities. Senior level advocacy across all the services, industry, and academia is a critical aspect of future Information Warfare development, which relies on relationships and organisational integration to establish the MD C2 capability necessary to stay ahead of the threat. Humans and technology working together as a team. John Conway is the Managing Director of FELIX, Australia’s first independent not-forprofit Defence company. He is a Board Member of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation, and his experience as a fast jet aviator and joint commander spans three decades including Cold War Europe, the South Atlantic, the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean theatres of operation.
MAY-JUNE 2018 31
Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles for the RAAF BY MAX BLENKIN
or decades, the RAAF has sought to equip its combat aircraft with an anti-radiation missile (ARM) capability to attack hostile radar systems. In the 1960s, the RAAF looked at various ARMs to equip its new F-111 strike bombers, including the French Martel AS-37 and the USâ€™s AGM-45 Shrike and Standard ARM. US forces fired a great number of Shrikes in the Vietnam War with marginal effect, highlighting the shortcomings in
this 1st generation capability. The first Shrike was followed by a succession of variants designed to deal with obvious problems, including differing radar bands and the tactical reality that any radar operator spotting an incoming missile promptly switched off. But Shrike was considered too slow, and the warhead too small for assured destruction of the targeted radar system. Israel found this out the hard way during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Its Shrikes could target Russian SA-2 and
SA-3 missile radars, but had difficulty with the more advanced SA-6. Both Shrike and Standard ARM were superseded by the AGM-88 HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) which was developed in the 1970s and adopted into US service in 1985. Again Australia was interested, and the RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) in conjunction with the US Navy China Lake missile test facility conducted carriage and release trials in 1987-88 at a cost of $1.6 million.
ELECTRONIC WARFARE - AARGM
Four inert test missiles were launch from an F-111C into the Southern Ocean under various test conditions, proving it could be done. But at that time there were other priorities, the primary one being the modernisation of the F-111’s obsolete analogue avionics through the Avionics Update Program (AUP) which ran to 1999. With the F-111s retiring in 2010 and the new F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters still some way off, then coalition Defence Minister Brendan Nelson announced in 2007 Australia would acquire 24 Super Hornets as an interim capability. Then in early 2009, Labor Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced that 12 of the 24 F/A-18Fs would come preconfigured for possible later conversion to EA-18G Growler configuration. These 12 airframes were designated by F/A-18F+ by Boeing to highlight their different wiring looms and structural modifications that would be required for the conversion. Growler is the electronic warfare variant of the Super Hornet, with systems designed to degrade, deceive and deny enemy use of the electro-magnetic spectrum, including their radars and communications. But to kill rather than just disrupt enemy emitters, Growler needs an ARM. So alluring was the potential of this capability that in May 2013 it was announced the RAAF would instead acquire 12 new-build EA-18G Growlers off the Boeing production line instead of modifying the 12 F/A-18F+ airframes, to make a total fleet of 36 ‘interim’ fighters. The final Growler arrived in July 2017, and initial operating capability is expected to be declared in mid-2018. They are operated by 6SQN based at RAAF Amberley, and the RAAF is currently the only Growler operator other than the US Navy. Well before the first Growler landed, the RAAF had been thinking about weapons, specifically an ARM capability. In 2012, the US Navy signed an agreement with Australia to provide a training capability for HARM and for its successor, the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). Last year, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a proposed Foreign Military Sale (FMS) sale deal, comprising up to 70 HARMs, 40 AARGMs, 16 captive air training missiles (CATMs) plus assorted control and guidance sections, support equipment and technical assistance. Estimated cost was US$137.6m (A$183m). Prime contractors for the missiles and associated systems are Orbital ATK and Raytheon Missile Systems. “Australia is requesting these missiles
for its Electronic Attack EA-18G Growler aircraft,” the DSCA release stated. “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability in current and future coalition efforts. Australia will use this capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. “Australia will have no difficultly absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support does not alter the basic military balance in the region.” In most recent conflicts in which air power has played a significant role, ARMs have been the first to be employed. Despite being obsolete, in the 1982 Lebanon war, Israel used Shrike ARMs to devastating effect against fixed Syrian air defences in the Bekaa Valley. In the 1990-91 Gulf War, the US and allies fired more than 2,000 HARM missiles against Iraqi air defences. HARM was also used in the Balkans War, though this conflict demonstrated the challenge in achieving complete suppression of enemy air defences. One Serb SA-3 missile battery and radar survived the initial air attacks by remaining silent, then on 27 March 1999 switched on for just 17 seconds and fired a salvo of missiles, one of which famously hit and shot down a USAF F-117 stealth fighter. The biggest innovation of HARM over Shrike was its intelligent radar processor seeker designed to recognise the characteristic pulse repetition frequencies of threat radars in a manner similar to a radar warning receiver (RWR). HARM is also faster (Mach 2 +) than a Shrike, with a longer operational range of 150 kilometres, close to four times that of Shrike. AARGM is the next iteration of HARM, and was developed as a joint program of the US and Italy. Commencing in the 1990s, full rate production began in 2012. AARGM uses the same motor, airframe and wings as HARM, but incorporates
a new guidance section and modified controls. The missile is 4.17m long, has a diameter of 25cm, and a wingspan of 1.12m. It weighs 361kg (650lbs). The seeker is an advanced multisensor system featuring an active millimetre wave (MMW) terminal seeker, advanced anti-radiation homing receiver, global positioning systems (GPS) plus inertial navigation system (INS). The active seeker is intended to counter radar shutdown. AARGM can engage traditional and advanced enemy air defences plus other emitting targets should the need arise. In 2015, the US Navy successfully hit a ship, demonstrating a capability to strike moving targets. The missile receives target information through an embedded Integrated Broadcast System Receiver. It even transfers real-time impact assessment reports back to the pilot or EWO. Development is continuing, with Orbital ATK unveiling an extended range version in 2016. AARGM-ER features a larger rocket motor, body strakes/chines that provide extra lift, and redesigned tail fins and flight controls to effectively double the missile’s range, and will also offer greater effectiveness against emerging and advanced threats. The US Navy contracted the AARGMER’s development in January 2018. “AARGM-ER will incorporate hardware and software modifications to improve AGM-88E AARGM capabilities and meet the approved requirements,” NAVAIR’s AARGM program director Capt Al Mousseau told Defence24 in an undated interview. “The development timeline supports an Initial Operational Capability in FY2023.” The US is integrating AARGM onto its Super Hornets and Growlers, while Italy and Germany are integrating it onto their potent Tornado ECRs. It is also planned to integrate AARGM and AARGM-ER with the F-35.
Development of the AARGM-ER was funded by the US Navy in January 2018. The new missile features a new airframe with lifting body strakes and a larger rocket motor to provide double the range of the current AARGM. ORBITAL ATK
MAY-JUNE 2018 33
JAMMED UP! Next Generation Jammer program update BY MAX BLENKIN
ith the RAAF’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft nearing initial operational capability (IOC) comes the promise of a high-end electronic warfare capability. But what is needed next is the dedicated jamming pod to make that possible now and well into the future. This has proven to be challenging technology, with the US not expecting to see IOC of the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) mid-band (NGJ-MB) capability until early next decade, and the followon low and high-band capabilities later still. Australia is definitely interested and willing to share in development costs, which are substantial. For our 5th generation air force Growler is a very important capability, with nothing remotely comparable in service anywhere in the region. In November 2017, Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL ‘Leo’ Davies announced the signing of an MoU between Australia and the US for the development of the NGJ. Specifically, Australia and the US Navy will jointly develop the AN/
ALQ‑249(V)1 NGJ-MB capability. “This is a very important milestone for both nations, one that took four years of communication and collaboration to successfully achieve,” AIRMSHL Davies said. The MoU, signed at US Pacific Fleet Headquarters in Hawaii provides a framework for communication, coordination and cooperation between the US Navy and the RAAF during the engineering and manufacturing development phase. This followed an earlier announcement by Defence Minister Marise Payne at the Avalon Airshow in February 2017 that the government would invest A$250 million in this development. “As this is a rapidly evolving area, we will work in partnership with the US Navy to develop the next generation jamming capability, which will ensure that our aircraft remain at the technological forefront throughout their service life,” she said. NGJ is a central element of the Project AIR 5439 Phase 6 enhancing Growler Airborne Electronic Attack
Capability (AEAC) with upgrades to the Electronic Warfare (EW) capability. The program has a nominal cost of $5-6 billion and a timeframe of 20162035, and will ensure upgrades to the Australian Growler fleet mirrors those of the US Navy. In Australian and US service, NGJ will replace Growler’s current AN/ALQ-99 jamming pods, acquired through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal in which Australia acquired the 12 Growlers. The ALQ-99 is not a single unit which does everything. Depending on mission, a Growler could carry up to five of the 450-kilogram 4.5-metre pods on wing and centreline hardpoints, but a typical Growler loadout is two pods configured for the mid-band of the frequency spectrum, and one for the low-band. Though various underwing and fuselage centreline pods have a superficial similarity, AN/ALQ-99 stands out for its little nose propeller which drives a ram air turbine to supply its power, rather than drawing power from the aircraft. But to dub the AN/ALQ-99 as a veteran capability is being kind. The pod
NEXT GEN JAMMER
Title image - A NGJ-MB test pod being mounted on a GIV testbed. RAYTHEON
was developed in the 1960s and first deployed on US EA-6B Prowler aircraft at the tail end of the Vietnam War. Prowler was also a veteran aircraft, with the last due to be retired in 2019. AN/ALQ-99 was also fitted in a centreline ‘canoe’ fairing to US Air Force EF-111 Raven jammers in the 1990s and of course is now carried by Growler which entered US Navy service in 2009. Initially Australia ordered 12 of the 24 Super Hornets to be pre-configured in production for possible later conversion to Growler, but so alluring was this capability that the RAAF decided it needed to not only retain 24 Super Hornets, but that it required new build Growlers off the production line. In May 2013 it was announced we would acquire 12 Growlers. Growler came with the familiar ALQ99 pods plus the onboard ALQ-218 Electronic Surveillance and Electronic Attack suite. But what Growler brings to the fight over Prowler is a far superior offensive and defensive capability, a higher performance airframe, plus the benefits of improved maintainability from a newer and younger airframe. To have remained in service so long, AN/ALQ-99 must do a lot right, but even after being constantly updated, it is showing its years. Its technology is analogue-based in a digital age and reported problems include poor reliability, regular failure of the builtin test facility, reduction in aircraft performance, and interference with the Growler’s AN/APG-79 AESA radar. From the outset of the Growler acquisition, it was envisaged that Australia would acquire a better jammer as the US Navy replaced its ALQ-99 pods. As the only Growler operator outside the US and at this stage the only other likely customer for NGJ, it not only seemed fair to contribute to development costs, but also gave Australia input to ensure it is capable of dealing with the kind of threats likely to be encountered in this region. NGJ has been a long time coming and much of its intended capability remains closely held. In the basic jamming role, it can produce sufficient power in appropriate frequencies to swamp hostile radars. But more than that, it has been reported that NGJ will also have a cyberattack capability, using the Growler’s and perhaps the F-35’s AESA radar to
insert data into remote systems. That could have the effect of spoofing a hostile air defence system to conceal inbound aircraft or show them as friendly or at a different location. On F-35, while it’s still early days it has been envisaged that NGJ could integrate directly with that aircraft’s onboard systems and not require a specialised aircraft configured for EW. In 2009 the US Navy invited proposals for NGJ-MB from four companies – Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and ITT Exelis (since acquired by Harris) – and in 2013 Raytheon was declared the winner. BAE appealed the decision which prompted a reconsideration, but this was dismissed and Raytheon was reaffirmed winner in January 2014. That contest was for the NGJ-MB solution, initially termed Increment 1. The mid-band is the region of the electro-magnetic spectrum where most current threats reside. This capability is officially designated AN/ALQ-249(V)1. In 2016, Raytheon was awarded a $1 billion contract to deliver 15 pods for engineering and manufacturing development and 14 aeromechanical pods for airworthiness certification. In January 2017 Boeing was awarded a contract to integrate NGJ onto Growler, and the (V)1 version completed critical design review (CDR) in April 2017. IOC is currently set for 2021. The low-band capability of AN/ ALQ‑99 was more recently upgraded and this version is still considered tactically relevant. That said, in April this year Lockheed Martin and Cobham were awarded a contract to develop the Increment 2 NGJ low-band (NGJ-LB) system, with IOC scheduled for 2022. Lockheed Martin said NGJ-LB would provide significantly greater electronic attack capabilities in the lower frequencies against modern threats. Those modern threats could include HF radar systems able to detect and track low observable aircraft such as the
F-35 and the B-2. Increment 3 will be a high-band capability not currently provided by AN/ALQ-99, but is yet to be funded. So Raytheon’s mid-band capability will be first into service in the US and likely Australia. Raytheon says NGJ provides significantly enhanced electronic attack capability to the warfighter. “In general, the threats – typically radars – are becoming more adaptable and agile; meaning, if you try and jam them one way, they can change their way of operation to avoid being jammed,” a company statement reads. “NGJ provides additional capability and flexibility through both hardware and software implementations that address these modern threats. NGJ is also expandable to handle threats as they evolve in the future. This flexibility and expandability does not exist in current systems.” Raytheon said their mid-band NGJ was built with a combination of high-powered, agile beam-jamming techniques and cutting-edge solidstate electronics. “Raytheon’s NGJ-MB effort will provide the most reliable, dependable and affordable system to deny, degrade and disrupt threats while protecting US and coalition forces. “NGJ will enable aviators to complete their mission with greater effectiveness and enhanced personal safety.” The well-regarded website defenseindustrydaily.com said the broader aim of NGJ was to develop a more cost-effective airborne electronic attack system with better performance against advanced threats. That will be achieved through expanded broadband capability for greater threat coverage against a wider variety of radio frequency emitters, faster collect-analyse-jam loops, more flexibility in terms of jamming profiles which could be changed in flight, better precision within jamming assignments, and more interoperability.
While still tactically relevant against ‘double-digit’ series of systems, the ALQ-99 is fast being overtaken by a new generation of threats. usN
MAY-JUNE 2018 35
Using cognition to gain the tactical edge BY CHRIS MCINNES
n 9 June 1982, the Israel Air Force (IAF) destroyed 87 Syrian military aircraft and 17 out of 19 Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries in the Beka’a Valley, for the loss of almost no IAF assets. The Israelis held several advantages – the initiative, generally superior equipment, and higher quality personnel – but it was the manner in which the IAF combined its forces to fight for, and with, information that produced the lopsided result. In short, the Israeli strike forces could see, communicate, and understand the environment and events, while Syrian forces were blind, dumb, and confused. One observer recalled seeing Syrian fighter aircraft flying figure-eight patterns as the battle raged because they could not communicate with their ground controllers or take their own initiative. The image of Syrian military aircraft orbiting aimlessly while the Israelis dismantled and destroyed their ability to operate is an apt metaphor for the whole battle. Much is made of the Israeli’s total dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum during the battle, but this was only one part of Israel’s success. To be sure, the IAF’s ability to control what could be sensed and communicated via the electromagnetic spectrum during the battle was the razor-sharp tip of the information spear. But the shaft of the spear – which supported and guided the point – was the superior training and education of the Israeli personnel. As one Israeli officer
observed, “they [the Syrians] could have flown the best fighter in the world, but if they flew it the way they were flying, we would have shot them down in exactly the same way. It wasn’t their equipment at fault, but their tactics.” Through superior training and education, the Israelis were better prepared for the battle. To use John Boyd’s famous OODA cycle, the Israelis were better oriented for the battle and were thus able to observe, decide, and act far better than the Syrians. The same was true of air combat during the Korean War. American pilots’ training was the foundation for their dominance over their opponents; technical differences between the F-86 Sabre and MiG-15 were less important than how those differences were exploited. This is why John Boyd believed ‘orient’, the second ‘O’, was most important in his OODA cycle, and it is why a 5th-generation force must be cognition-centric. Cognition is the process or action of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. The reason a 5th-generation force must be cognition-centric – rather than platform, information, network, or decision-centric – is because it is cognition that determines the quality and utility of each of those things. It is cognition that will determine how well a force functions when the information and network are compromised or denied. It is cognition that will cause a junior pilot stepping through their decision-centric checklist – in circumstances for which the
checklist was not designed – to pause before firing the ‘Fox 3’ that potentially starts World War III. When the Israelis denied the network-centric Syrian forces access to their networks, it was Syria’s failure to develop the cognitive capabilities of its force that resulted in futile figure-eights. The rise of automation and machine intelligence reinforces, rather than reduces, the centrality of cognition in future warfare. In addition to considering human cognition – which the Israelis exploited so superbly – planners must now account for machine cognition and human-machine cognition, and the interaction between different types of cognition. Algorithms are the ‘orient’ of a machine’s OODA cycle so, what Peter Layton has called “duelling algorithms” will remain as much a contest of cognition as that which occurred over the Beka’a Valley in 1982. In the coming years, the ADF will introduce unprecedented capabilities to target and influence other people’s cognition, while defending its own. A variety of non-kinetic options, including the EA-18G Growler and nascent Australian offensive cyber capabilities will complement and enhance traditional kinetic weapons. Developments in network defences and management, as well as electromagnetic spectrum operations management, will give the ADF a greater ability to sense and display what is happening in non-physical environments. There have been numerous discussions and seminars about the impact that these new
THE COGNITIVE EDGE
capabilities will have on the ADF, and the need for personnel that can understand and exploit them. What has often been overlooked in these discussions is the types of cognition that militaries need to optimise the utility of these capabilities as a whole. This is less about developing specific knowledge, and more about the way in which people process new information so that they can understand enough about all these new capabilities, operating environments, and challenges, to rapidly combine these factors in ways to maximise their likelihood of success. Militaries are good at building specific knowledge, as this is the foundation of technical mastery; technical knowledge can be defined, measured, and tested reliably. And the discussions of new capabilities tend to centre on how the organisation builds more subject matter experts. Efforts to enhance broader cognition tend to centre on appeals to read and engage in debate. These are useful and enjoyable pursuits, but the approach is less than scientific. Considering which types of cognition are best suited for future warfare is important for two principal reasons. Firstly, if the organisation can identify the modes of thinking that are optimally suited to operating in a networked, multidomain force that fights for, and with information, then it stands a much better chance of being able to educate its people broadly to optimise those skills. Secondly, knowing what cognitive attributes posture an individual to contribute optimally to a force’s OODA cycle may allow the organisation to identify individuals early and groom them for key decision-making and decision-support functions. The option of selecting personnel for key functions based on aptitude would appear to pose quite a disruptive challenge to military workforce models based on hierarchy, time, and experience but it is in many ways, simply an extension of how people are selected for roles through recruiting processes. Researchers in multiple disciplines are endeavouring to understand how and why people process information to make decisions. Behavioural economics is founded on the notion, pioneered by psychologists Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky, that human decision-making is not purely rational, and is subject to the whims of often unpredictable and frequently suboptimal cognition. Efforts to understand those whims
and how they apply to decision-making have revolutionised the study of economics, and saw Richard Thaler, one of the leading behavioural economists, awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics. Psychologist and social scientist Phillip Tetlock has more specifically explored the cognitive attributes that position individuals best to make decisions, specifically forecasts in Tetlock’s experiments, in environments characterised by dynamism and ambiguity. Tetlock’s work saw him characterise forecasters as foxes – those who know many small things, are sceptical about grand ideas, and adapt to the world around them – or hedgehogs – those who have one dominant conviction and endeavour to make everything fit that theory. Tetlock’s categorisation was not based on an individual’s level of expertise, but rather on the manner in which they processed information. Many experts were indeed hedgehogs as they sought to fit the evidence to their field of expertise, but this was not always the case. Tetlock’s research showed that foxes were, on aggregate superior forecasters than hedgehogs, but his key conclusion was, “how you think matters more than what you think”. This conclusion is a vitally important one for militaries to explore as they seek to grapple with the implications of future warfare and the types of cognition needed for optimal outcomes.
The question remains open: esteemed historian John Lewis Gaddis argues in his 2018 book, On Grand Strategy, that good strategists should be a combination of fox and hedgehog. The research outlined above indicates that expertise in a particular area may not be the characteristic most desirable to perform key decisionmaking and decision-support roles in dynamic and ambiguous environments. Moreover, as algorithms begin to play a greater role, the optimal combination of machine and human cognitions must be considered. Are machines to be the hedgehogs to the human foxes in a human-machine team? Understanding and developing the types of cognition – human and machine – needed to win future wars is critical to optimising the capabilities of the future force. Investment in equipment and training will enable a force to fight, but it is cognition – Individual and collective – that will determine how effectively it fights. The Syrians could fly figure-eights because they were trained and equipped, but their aerobatics were irrelevant as the Israelis held the cognitive edge. Wing Commander Chris ‘Guiness’ McInnes is an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and editor at The Central Blue. The opinions expressed are his alone and do not reflect those of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Australian Defence Force, or the Australian Government.
The Syrian Air Force was totally out-matched by the Israelis, both in equipment and tactics.
MAY-JUNE 2018 37
BIG LITTLE LIFT
The RAAF’s C-27J Spartan is redefining the Battlefield Airlift mission BY ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
here’s no doubt the ADF is going through a period of rapid transformation.Project teams are essentially structured around buying platforms to replace older platforms on a roughly one-forone basis, and this is still necessary from a political and manning point of view. But there is also a revolution happening within CASG and the three services that has seen a massive up-gauging not only in the physical dimensions of new platforms, but also in their capabilities. But perhaps most importantly, there is now a strong awareness of the need for platforms to be able to not only interoperate, but to integrate with other capabilities right across the ADF and our key allies. Recent examples include Army’s LAND 400 Phase 2 selection of the Rheinmetall Boxer CRV to replace the ASLAV. Navy has seen the Navantia F100-based Hobart class DDGs acquired under SEA 4000 to replace the air defence mission lost with the Adams/Perth class DDGs and only
partially met by the modified Perry/ Adelaide class frigates, while Air Force has ordered 72 F-35As through AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B to replace a similar number of F/A-18 Hornets. In each of these cases, while the numbers have remained roughly similar, the higher levels of capability each of these new front-line platforms brings to the ADF through their advanced sensors, robust networking and survivability is or will be extraordinary. Not only are they more capable as a stand-alone piece of kit, but their sensors and networks truly make the whole ADF greater than the sum of its parts. Away from these front-line headlinegrabbing combat capabilities, other elements of the ADF have seen similar advances. Perhaps nowhere is this more graphically illustrated than in the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group. This effectively began with the Boeing C-17 which, when it entered service in 2006 under AIR 8000 Phase 3, took up-gauging to a new level by effectively quadrupling the ADF’s lift and reach capability offered by the
C-130H it would eventually replace. The C-17 was soon followed by the Airbus KC-30A MRTT which replaced the Boeing 707 under Project AIR 5402 and dramatically increased the RAAF’s fuel offload, passenger capacity, and Air Logistics Support (ALS) capability. Despite its complexity and cost, the C-17 was a relatively easy capability to acquire and introduce into RAAF service due to it already being a mature capability with deep levels of industry sustainment and support, and a deep commitment to training and supporting the RAAF capability by the USAF. Despite now being a stellar capability supporting not only the ASDF but our allies in operations, the KC-30A was initially more problematic due to it being developmental at the time Australia ordered it as lead customer. Being at the bleeding edge of the MRTT program meant the RAAF had to patiently bide its time while concepts of operation, training, technical airworthiness, and a sustainment system were developed from scratch.
NEXT GEN LOGISTICS - C-27J SPARTAN
JCA to BFA
Moving forward to 2012, the Commonwealth finally committed to the L-3/Alenia C-27J Spartan as a new battlefield airlifter (BFA) to replace the obsolete DHC-4 Caribou under AIR 8000 Phase 2. The C-27J is a modern development of the 30-year-old G.222/C-27A which enjoyed a moderately successful but relatively short-lived career in Italian and US service respectively. The C-27J was jointly-developed by Alenia and Lockheed Martin to replace older C-130s and to complement the larger C-130J Super Hercules in service. The C-27J was a considerable upgrade from the original G.222 and, with a view to commonality, shared many of the C-130J’s systems including engines, the cargo handling system, and avionics. The USAF’s Light Cargo Aircraft program and the US Army’s Future Cargo Aircraft programs were merged to become the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program, but the industrial tie-up between Alenia and Lockheed Martin was dissolved in 2006 when Lockheed Martin focussed its efforts in marketing
the C-130J for JCA in opposition to the smaller C-27J. Alenia subsequently joined forces with L-3, and in 2006 the C-27J was selected for the JCA requirement. The JCA was designed to fulfil the roles of intra-theatre critical resupply, casualty evacuation, air drop of personnel and supplies, aerial sustainment, troop transport, and homeland security missions. L-3 was appointed as the US prime contractor for JCA, and was to modify standard ‘green’ C-27Js at its Waco, Texas facility for service. After an initial requirement for about 150 aircraft was published, 75 C-27Js were eventually approved. But Lockheed Martin’s C-130J US marketing and lobbying efforts began to pay off, and the JCA program was abandoned in 2013 in favour of buying additional C-130Js for the ANG. Thus, the JCA order was capped at just 21 C-27Js, all of which were almost immediately retired and placed in storage at the US DoD’s Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) ‘boneyard’ in Arizona. In 2014 seven of the JCA C-27Js were regenerated and passed on to the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Flight Company (UFC) for high altitude jump and tactical vehicle load training at Fort Bragg. The US Coast Guard took the remaining 14 C-27Js from 2015 and rebadged them as the HC-27J for the maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response and search and rescue missions. This left the US Army’s JCA requirement unfulfilled, and today it continues to solider on with a mixed fleet of obsolete C-23 Sherpa, C-12 Huron (King Air) and C-26 (Metro) transports. According to a 2015 US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 77 per cent of the US Army fixedwing transport fleet was at that time beyond their useful life of type. Meanwhile, the RAAF’s Project AIR 8000 Phase 2 Battlefield Airlifter (BFA) had been an active project for more than 12 years. The previous Project AIR 5190 ran for more than a decade before that and reportedly resulted in the C295 being selected in 2000. Curiously, this selection was never formally announced, and it was subsequently reversed, although it is unlikely the C-27J was considered at that time as it had only flown for the first time a year before. But the C-27J was offered to the RAAF’s re-jigged AIR 8000 Phase 2 requirement as a Foreign Military
Sales deal that leveraged the JCA program. Despite JCA being cancelled prior to the AIR 8000 decision, L-3 and Alenia continued to tout the C-27Js capabilities and the advantages of an FMS buy which they said would reduce development risk and give the RAAF access to a large ‘parent’ operator and user group. Notwithstanding a renewed final push by Airbus with its rival C295 following the JCA cancellation, the C-27J was announced as the winning AIR 8000 Phase 2 contender. Then Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare confirmed the order on 10 May 2012 just a couple of days after the 2012-13 federal budget which had announced the RAAF’s eight remaining C-130H Hercules would be retired. At the time, the aircraft and associated spares, training and equipment were planned to cost about $1.4 billion, with first delivery scheduled for 2015, and initial operational capability (IOC) in late 2016. Compared to the standard C-27J as operated by Italy, Lithuania and several other nations in small numbers, the JCA specification adds ballistic armour protection around the cockpit and loadmaster station, an enhanced communications suite, an enhanced electronic warfare self-protection capability, and a cargo handling system similar to that of the C-130J. But despite the contractors’ assurances, the cancellation of JCA did leave the RAAF without a parent service from which to leverage the specialised certification, training, upgrades and enhancements expertise, and of course, the costs. With the closure of the USAF JCA ‘schoolhouse’ in Georgia, it was also left to L-3 and the RAAF to develop a training system from scratch. An RAAF C-27J Transition team was established in 2014 as the RAAF’s first aircraft neared its ferry from Alenia in Italy to L-3’s Waco facility. After a delay of about six months, training on the aircraft commenced in December 2014. The RAAF’s first C-27J was delivered to its temporary home of RAAF Base Richmond in May 2015. Since then, the unit has been building its fleet and personnel cadre, and has conducted operations in Papua New Guinea, and taken part in major exercises in New Caledonia, Guam, New Zealand and in Australia. An initial operational capability (IOC) MAY-JUNE 2018 39
Former US ANG C-27Js were retired to the AMARG ‘boneyard’ before being taken over by the US Coast Guard (top), and the US Army Special Operations Command paratroop school (above). usCG & US ARMY
for the RAAF’s C-27J was achieved in December 2016, and the tenth and final C-27J was accepted at a ceremony at Richmond on April 18. Final operational capability (FOC) is expected to be achieved once the unit has relocated to its permanent home of RAAF Base Amberley and it has filled all its personnel slots in late 2019.
Spartan in service
Commanding Officer of 35SQN, Wing Commander Ben Poxon, started his career in the RAAF as a C-130J pilot. He started flying with the RAAF in 2002 and has accumulated 3,000 hours on the Hercules. “I progressed through the standard C-130J co-pilot and captaincy path,” he told ADBR. “During this time I completed seven tours of the Middle East, but also conducted operations in Timor, Cyprus, Fiji, Solomon Islands and South Sudan, as well as most of the Pacific islands for various disaster relief missions.”
Poxon completed his command staff course in the US finishing number 1 of 550 US and International students, and then attended the School of Advanced Aerospace Studies where he completed a military strategy philosophy master’s degree in 2014. “From there, I wanted to command 35SQN,” he said. “I saw the C-27J capability pretty much at the same stages where I found the C-130J capability in 2005. It is an immature capability with plenty of room to grow, and now I’ve been flying it for twelve months, I’m glad that I did. “35SQN’s mission is to prepare the C-27J for operations,” he added. “The first step along the way that we’ve accomplished was when we reached IOC in 2016. This needed us to have a capability to move passengers and cargo to conduct air-land or airdrop. It mainly focused on the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) or Aeromedical Evacuation (AME) missions.”
WGCDR Poxon describes the path to FOC as a crawl-walk-run approach to capability generation, and defined the squadron’s current status as being in the walk stage about to break into a run. Using a graphic of a three-tiered cake to illustrate his point, WGCDR Poxon described the process. “From an air-land point of view, the lower layer is airlift support which is moving people and cargo in a peacetime role such as HADR, the middle layer is airborne operations that introduces operations in a threat environment, and the top layer is special operations or specialised role environment. “The middle layer, what we’re really focusing on now is the airborne operations environment where we have a threat,” he added. “We’ll build on the crews’ experience in airlift support, and then introduce a more complex environments where we have to think about a threat akin to the Middle East.” In such an environment, 35SQN crews would be wearing body armour and carrying weapons, and would have the aircraft’s self-defence systems enabled so they can conduct airdrop or air-land operations anywhere in the world. To this end, the squadron will participate in two major exercises this year, Hamel and Pitch Black, where it will develop and practice the skill-sets required to operate in a tactical threat environment. “For Exercise Hamel our objectives will be to provide a reliable and repeatable resupply of ammunition, food, and medical supplies into the field,” WGCDR Poxon explained. “The C-27J is the truck in the sky. We provide options to and land forces manoeuvre on the battlefield. This will allow commanders to consider the C-27J to insert or extract personnel and cargo rather than typical land manoeuvre. “At Pitch Black we’ll be assessing our ability to integrate into a 5th generation air force, whilst supporting the special operations community,” he added. “We will train in areas such as precision airdrop using GPS-guided chutes and dropping from quite high altitudes.” Obviously, the nature of the special operations support mission is difficult to define in a public forum, but WGCDR Poxon did offer that this would be a key focus in 2019 in the lead-up to FOC, and will continue to be developed throughout the aircraft’s life of type. “FOC will get us into a semi-
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permissive environment, akin to what we see in Iraq or Afghanistan. But with various avionics upgrades coming in the next two years, we would certainly be able to move into a higher threat environment in the coming years.”
Hub and spoke
“The type of aircraft and the capability each AMG aircraft brings adds a different slice to each capability set,” he explained. “If we talk about C-27J, specifically ‘how’ we will employ it is where it’s best capability is. “If we employ this the same way as a C-130 or a C-17, we’d be doing it a disservice. This aircraft is more for intra-lift on the battlefield and our focus is in air-land integration closely aligned to the employment of the Chinook in a capability sense.” WGCDR Poxon explained that C-130J or C-17 missions will typically sit on an air tasking order (ATO) generated by an air operations centre (AOC) that runs on a 72-hour cycle. This represents centralised command and decentralised execution. But because the battlefield is a dynamic environment, the C-27J will operate in direct support of Army units alongside helicopters from a forward location so they can be quickly re-tasked if necessary. Therefore, the C-27J may be employed in a decentralised command framework. “The C-27J has the ability to operate
on a reduced battle rhythm of less than 24-hours,” he said. “So, our crews will plan with the people that actually conduct the tasking. This will provide more responsive, reactive tasking to our customers. “Where the C-27J would take the mission instead of a Chinook, depends on the range from the base and what’s at the other end,” he added. “The C-27J can go at least three to four times further, faster, and can carry more, but obviously we need a landing strip or something to land on. We provide a unique niche of capability between the C-130 and Chinook in this sense.” With the C-27J sitting between the CH-47F and the C-130J, the wider ADF is also conscious of the need to support this hub-and-spoke concept, and has planned the building of cargo pallets so they can be offloaded from a larger aircraft to a smaller one without having to be broken down and re-built. While this may sometimes see the larger aircraft under-filled, the time-saving advantages in getting equipment to the forward bases and onwards into the field cannot be understated. Part of integrating the C-27J into service has been the process of educating the aircraft’s customer base. “One problem we have is that the C-27J was sold as a Caribou replacement, and to a certain extent that’s correct. It is a twin-engined, smaller, light tactical transporter. But the battlefield of today
has changed,” he added. “The C-27J is almost twice as heavy as the Caribou. What it does gain in the extra weight is range, it gets speed, it gets flexibility, but it also has defensive systems and comms that allow it to integrate on the modern battlefield.” While the C-27J doesn’t have that much of a shorter landing roll or takeoff run than a C-130J, where it excels is in its ability to land on strips with a much lower pavement classification number (PCN), a rating used to indicate the strength of a runway, taxiway or ramp. As a consequence, while the C-27J obviously carries a lot less than the C130, the RAAF claims it can access up to 1,900 airfields in Australia compared to about 500 for the C-130J. “We’re very adept at small team insertions and extractions,” he added. “That’s why when you look at this capability, special operations are very excited about it. Overall, AMG has increased the access to airlift with our 10 aircraft, but also, the C-27J is an aircraft that can go a long way with small teams and their gear. On top of the RAAF C-27J’s previously-described JCA modifications, the aircraft will also receive an IFF mode 5 upgrade and ADSB from later this year which will allow it to operate anywhere in the world. To this end, the first RAAF aircraft is currently in Italy being modified, and the rest of the fleet will be modified
A 35SQN C-27J with CO WGCDR Ben Poxon in the left seat on short finals to the dirt strip at Gilgandra in the New South Wales central west after a lowlevel training run from Mudgee.
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A C-27J on the ramp at Gilgandra as seen through night vision goggles. ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
in Australia by RAAF and Leonardo technicians. Another smart JCA option adopted by the RAAF was the incorporation of numerous currently blank antennae and apertures in anticipation of these and other possible future communications and sensor additions. “We’ve found it’s time consuming to change the structure of an aircraft,” WGCDR Poxon offered. “As soon as you start changing the outside of an aircraft, you’re talking about major modifications, therefore, we are looking at capabilities that roll on and roll off the aircraft.”
WGCDR Poxon said the C-27J’s commonality with the larger C-130J was already paying dividends for the RAAF. “In general, one of the biggest advantages that we have had is the commonality with C-130J,” he said. “One of the best decisions that we made was to have an aircraft with a similar engine. It’s been a proven engine over many years, and everything from the logistics to the contracts, to even the guys working on it has been a very simple transition.” One of the key advantages is the ability for 35SQN to leverage the RAAF’s C-130J workforce to assist in supporting and training the C-27J maintenance workforce. Similarly, due to the similar cockpit layouts and mission planning systems, the training for a pilot transferring from
the C-130J to the C-27J focuses more on the aircraft’s different handling characteristics and capabilities, rather than having to start from scratch. “The avionics architecture is very similar as well,” he continued. “The CNI or the FMS is almost identical to a 2008/2009 C-130J, so I can bring a pilot from C-130J over to C-27J in six weeks, whereas it probably takes a good five months to train someone from the start or from another aircraft type. “The roles are also very similar. Everything from intelligence products, to briefings, to how we conduct business for loadmasters down the back is almost identical. It’s a very good purchase from that point of view. “From my own experience, I felt at home straight away in the cockpit,” WGCDR Poxon explained. “Most of the systems avionics architecture, headup displays, head-downs displays, are all taken from the C-130J. I passed a simple day-night check on the second simulator ride. In addition, I passed an instrument rating test after about seven sims.” Being a smaller and lighter aircraft, the C-27J handles quite differently to the C-130J. In the tactical environment, pilots can stay lower for longer as the nimbler C-27J will get them into and out of valleys and over ridgelines much quicker. But the C-27J is more difficult to land as it sits on a narrower main undercarriage track and can dip on the nose and gets light on the mains when braking.
“If there’s any side movements whatsoever, you almost feel it’s a little bit tippy,” WGCDR Poxon explained. “So, it is challenging on the runway and in higher crosswinds, but it’s just something that you have to get used to. Unlike the C-130J which is very solid during the landing ground roll, you’ve got to continue to fly this aircraft until you have stopped.” The C-27J also has a higher thrust to weight rating, so it climbs very quickly. “It’s got a lot of power behind it. Where we would typically put a C-130J’s nose up to 10 degrees for takeoff, we’re up around 17 or 18 degrees for takeoff for the C-27J. “Even with a load, it’s still a bit of a rocket. But on one engine it’s challenging like any twin-engine aircraft on one would be. Whereas if you lose on engine on a C-130J you barely notice it. But in this aircraft, losing one engine is almost like losing two engines in a C-130J at the same time – it feels very slow to climb, and it requires quite adept handling skills.” WGCDR Poxon estimates the C-27J capability is a good five years ahead of where it would have otherwise been because of the commonality with its larger cousin. “Both aircrew and maintenance that transition across to the aircraft bring a lot of knowledge with them,” he said “35SQN conducts all of the maintenance on the aircraft,” he added. “So, the men and women that are working on the aircraft and pulling it apart and are learning all the baseline skills that you would need to repair a battlefield airlifter in the field as well. We’re looking at trying to stand up the battlefield damage repair sometime soon – it’s something the RAAF has not focused on for a while.”
Last November it was announced Northrop Grumman had been awarded a performance-based contract to maintain the RAAF’s C-27J fleet. But unlike most industry-led sustainment contracts, Northrop Grumman doesn’t actually lay a finger on the aircraft itself. “They provide the engineering services,” 35SQN Senior Engineering Officer (SENGO), SQNLDR Amanda Gosling Clarke told ADBR. “They’re the platform steward for the aircraft, so they look after our documentation suites, configuration control, structural integrity, and the logistics pipeline.” There is also a small team of Leonardo field service representatives (FSRs) who
NEXT GEN LOGISTICS - C-27J SPARTAN
work through the Northrop Grumman contract, while engine maintenance is performed by Standard Aero which also looks after the C-130J’s engines. SQNLDR Gosling Clarke also came from C-130Js, and before that, the F-111. “A lot of people think of C-27J as a mini Herc because it looks like one,” she said. “But realistically, it’s pretty far from that when you get into the maintenance of it. While it shares some systems, it’s definitely a different beast. “Because it’s from a smaller production line, it’s a handmade sort of aircraft,” she added. “Its publications have a very different…philosophy, which has been interesting for our maintenance team to learn and to think about things in a different way than perhaps with Lockheed Martin maintenance publications. “It’s been quite a journey for the maintenance team who has been here since we got the first aircraft, right up until now. They were here for the first wheel change, the first time we did everything. The first time we opened those pubs to go through a procedure.” 35SQN’s maintenance team has now performed three series of servicings on their aircraft, and performed their first
engine change in April. The squadron is also being more efficient with its workforce, by cross-training maintenance personnel across multiple trades. “There have been a lot of things that we don’t do on other air force platforms, because we’re doing the deeper maintenance level servicings as well as the operational servicings,” SQNLDR Gosling Clarke said. “The squadron has been established with a ‘grey trader’ initiative in mind, so for any task that we can cross-trade or cross-train people, then we will. “We’ve got ‘black handers’ pulling out avionics boxes, and we’ve got avionics guys helping on our brake changes. As you go up in complexity of the task, we just make sure that there’s a core trained person as the maintenance manager.” The C-27J has a phased maintenance approach, where every part of the aircraft is serviced over a four-year cycle. “It’s also based off of hours and landings,” SQNLDR Gosling Clarke added. “But that does enable us to increase the amount of time that we’ve got the aircraft online, because there’s lots of smaller maintenance opportunities to address other things that happen.”
As a consequence, the longest a C-27J will be out of service is about eight weeks, whereas a C-130J can be down for six or more months during a major service. “It’s actually quite difficult to think about compared to the American system,” she said. “Especially if you are using some more basic fleet planning tools, which is what we’ve currently got available. We’re going to need to get a little more technical before we can make that program more efficient.” According to the 2018/19 budget documents released on May 8, the RAAF’s C-27Js will fly about 4,000 hours in the year to June 30, increasing to 5,000 in 2018/19, and ultimately to 7,500 per year in 2019/20 and beyond as the squadron achieves FOC. “I’d actually say that, one of the key benefits of setting up a new squadron like this and bringing people in from all over the place, is the diversity of our team,” SQNLDR Gosling Clarke said. “We’ve got such a diversity of backgrounds through our organisation, and there’s been some really innovative ideas coming from those places. “We’ve got people from ACG, we’ve got our P-3 guys, we’ve got people
The C-27J’s engine and avionics commonality with the larger C-130J has allowed for maintenance personnel to be cross-trained on both types and existing industry support contracts to be extended, thus facilitating a smooth introduction to service. ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
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35SQN CO WGCDR Ben Poxon (2nd from right) conducting a ramp brief with his co-pilot and two loadmasters prior to departure from Richmond to Gilgandra. ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
coming from Hercs, C-17s, the lot, which is really good. And we have a really engaged chain of command that is willing to listen to those innovations and look at putting them in place, which is going to mean great things for the capability as it goes forward.”
While most of 35SQN’s pilots had come from other multi-engined types or via King Air, WGCDR Poxon said he was now getting more straight from 2FTS. “Most of them have come from King Air and C-130J,” he said. “We’ll get a few from the P-3 through our transition. But then we’ll get 2FTS graduates to come through at the bottom. “We actually need the 2FTS graduates to come through and do a typical co-pilot to captaincy tour. Until now we have focused quite heavily on the flying supervision side. But if you have too much experience, then you have a top-heavy squadron and risk progressing at a rate unachievable for 2FTS students. “At the moment we are short on pilots,” he added. “But that’s not due to the availability of pilots, but more to do with getting the pilots through the training system to the C-27J.” Pilots new to the C-27J who have come from a type other than a C-130J do a six-month initial qualification course, at the end of which they are able to conduct airborne operations missions competently. At least six weeks of that course is currently conducted at Pisa in Italy, but this will transition to Australia from 2024 when
the C-27J simulator is installed and certified at Amberley. PLTOFF Katherine Mitchell is one of 35SQN’s ‘bograt’ pilots who has come straight from 2FTS. “I came straight off pilot’s course in December last year,” she told ADBR. “We actually get posted out of 2 FTS on to any airframe in Defence now, the only one that they don’t post onto is the BBJ I think. “So you can go straight from the PC-9 or the PC-21 onto Spartans, and there’s a couple from my course that went straight to Hercs as well,” she added. While the C-27J wasn’t PLTOFF Mitchell’s first airframe choice, she said it was “right up there.” “That’s mostly because, for what this airframe’s going to do in the future, I think it’s quite an interesting outlook,”
she said. “The flexibility we can do, get into places, and what the squadron’s going to eventually do with it is really interesting. So it was definitely up there in my preferences.” PLTOFF Mitchell said she had already had some exposure to the C-27J when, while doing Officer Training School (OTS), she had an opportunity to deploy to East Sale in a C-27J as part of her training. “We all had our packs on and our weapons and did a little mini-tac flight around the back of the Spartan, landed, and then deployed off the back for our field exercise,” she said. “I got that experience quite early on which for me was probably the best thing that could’ve happened, because it meant that I had this interest in this airframe from early on.” During her time at 2FTS, her course also had a visit from AMG staff to brief them on the aircraft and what role it would play in the ADF. Going forward, she seems confident in the C-27J and in her abilities to progress on the aircraft. “At the beginning of this year we went through ground school phase, then went over to Italy for five weeks for sim phase. There we did our basic instrument flying tests, a bit of basic tac and stuff. We’ve just started our first flying phase and have done a couple of flights, and we’re heading off on an (around Australia) ‘Aus-trainer’ in June or July.” “I have more of an interest in working with a multi-crew than single pilot,” PLTOFF Mitchell added. “I find it more interesting having other people to throw ideas up against and having a crew to support you through the decisions that you make. I’m also quite interested in the humanitarian side of it as well, so obviously we have a big role there.”
C-27J loadmasters are now being recruited as direct entry crews, and where the muster was once the domain of Warrant Officers and Sergeants, it is now available for corporals. ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
NEXT GEN LOGISTICS - C-27J SPARTAN
From that point she will progress initially as a trainee co-pilot under the guidance of an experienced pilot, before being rated as a C-Cat co-pilot by the end of the year. From there, WGCDR Poxon says she should be able to achieve her captaincy on the aircraft in 2019. As with all RAAF flying operations, C-27J pilots are given category ratings based on their proficiency. “D-Cat is safe operation of the aircraft, and a C-Cat is proficient, so you can employ that aircraft proficiently in a mission,” WGCDR Poxon explained. “A B-CAT pilot is highly proficient so therefore your chances of mission success are increased, and that also aligns with a captaincy. Then A-Cat is ‘select’.”
No less important than the pilots are the C-27J’s loadmasters, and like the pilots, the ‘loadies’ have a mix of experience and backgrounds. “We’ve got our first direct entry off the street loadmaster,” 35SQN’s Executive Loadmaster, WOFF Dave Pyatt told ADBR. “Traditionally it was a re-muster role, but Air Force has identified that we need to reach out further without taking a lot of the resources and corporate experience, and actually develop more. “So we have eight ab-initios coming
through,” he added. “This includes our Army Private who made the lateral transfer across and who, when he graduates this year, will be corporal loadmaster. We changed the rank from Sergeants down to Corporals so we can turn that top-heavy, warrant officercentric workforce into one that is more merit-based. WOFF Pyatt’s own background is a diverse one. “I’ve been in the Air Force for 24 years, and a loadie for about 14,” he said. “I was on C-130Hs then C-17s for about 10 years, did a couple of ground jobs on an exchange posting with the US Air Force, and spent the past three years at RAAF SALT (the School of Administration and Logistics Training at Wagga Wagga) teaching air movers.” WOFF Pyatt says the difference between the C-17 and C-27J is palpable for a loadie. “Absolutely, 18 pallets to 3 pallets is a big difference,” he said “I guess the C-27J aircraft is a lot nimbler and less forgiving in terms of attention to detail, whereas the C-17 has got a lot of fat, but it’s the same applied physics. “I think the best thing about this aircraft is we can adapt and use innovation on the aircraft cable and cargo handling systems,” he added. “We switched to the Brooks & Perkins cargo handling system on the Hercs, but through the nature of the missions and the complexity and the weight saving
we wanted to achieve, we ended up removing it. On the C-27J we can install it as required per mission, that gives us an extra half a ton of cargo or fuel or whatever else.” AMG’s Air Movements Training and Development Unit (AMTDU) which is tasked to develop and certify the carriage and dropping of equipment aboard ADF aircraft has a 35SQN member posted as a liaison to the unit. “We liaise with him and he bounces ideas, so we have that crosspollination,” WOFF Pyatt explained. “We’ll rotate people through the posting cycle who have a particular appetite for that role, then they’ll come back to us with their expertise in engineering and airworthiness which bolsters up our experience.” In summary, not only is the C-27J certainly a massive capability leap over the much-loved Caribou it has replaced in the BFA role, but the way in which the squadron and indeed, the wider RAAF is doing business is also new. Despite some initial hiccups, the capability is now much further along the capability curve than many which have come before it, and the RAAF has put in place innovative and effective training, maintenance and sustainment programs to support it efficiently. The Spartan looks set to be here for a long time.
A 35SQN Spartan conducting a sunset missed approach at Gilgandra. The C-27J can access some 1,900 airfields in Australia compared to about 500 for the larger C-130J. ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
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Sustaining the RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornets on operations in the Middle East BY MAX BLENKIN
n route to Arnhem Land to make good on an election promise to spend a week with indigenous people, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott called a media conference in Darwin on 14 September 2014 to announce that RAAF combat aircraft and army Special Forces would be heading back to the Middle East. Over the previous weeks and months much of the world had watched appalled as black-clad fighters of the Islamic State group had surged out of Syria and into Iraq, brushing aside Iraqi armed forces the US and others had spent
billions equipping and trying to train. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city quickly fell in June, and it seemed only a matter of time before Baghdad and all the rest of Iraq would follow. Prime Minister Abbott said he had received a specific request for Australian military assistance from the US and had discussed that with the Prime Minister of Iraq. The deployment of combat aircraft, up to eight RAAF F/A-18 Super Hornets and some special forces to advise Iraqi forces had been signed off by the National Security Committee and the full cabinet.
The PM wasn’t mincing his words. “Australia is prepared to engage in international operations to disrupt and degrade ISIL because of the threat that this murderous death cult poses not just to the people of Iraq, not just to the people of the Middle East but to the whole world – including to Australia,” he said. Just the previous day, the death cult had released video of one of its members beheading British aid worker David Haines, abducted in Syria six months earlier. The group called themselves the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), often abbreviated to just IS. But they were increasingly referred to as Daesh or Daish, the acronym of their name in Arabic, a derogatory term which is dismissive of their pretentions to be a state. Abbott stopped short of declaring Australia was going to war. That would involve a further decision some weeks away. But the die was cast. RAAF combat aircraft were heading back to the Middle East where they would play a significant role in the air war against
Daesh forces in Iraq and Syria, only returning to Australia in January 2018. F/A-18F Super Hornets conducted the first and last deployments, with F/A-18A classic Hornets at roughly six-month intervals in between. In that time, the Supers and classic Hornets flew 2,759 sorties and 21,532 hours, and released 2,374 munitions. The vast majority of missions were flown over Iraq. Throughout, the combat aircraft maintained a very high rate of serviceability, an achievement acknowledged in passing in public
pronouncements about what was termed Operation Okra. No aircraft or personnel were lost, and no Super Hornet missions were scrubbed through aircraft unserviceability. That was all the result of a series of reforms of the way Defence conducts its business, most recently the First Principles Review which reported in 2015. Among its recommendations was full implementation of “an enterprise approach to delivery of corporate and military enabling services to maximise their effectiveness and efficiency”. So it was that Chris Gray, Boeing’s program manager for sustainment of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft, came to work at RAAF Amberley on the morning of Monday 15 September 2014, unaware of the PM’s announcement. “I hadn’t seen the news article on the Sunday night and I came to work on the Monday,” he said. “The logistics support kicked in, we identified the equipment that we needed. It was all loaded and shipped. “Within seven days we had the aircraft ready, we had logistics in place and we had a number of unique things we did in the leadup to them deploying. They successfully arrived in the Gulf and commenced operations soon after.” Gray, a former RAAF engineer who once worked on F-111s, said going from a standing start with minimal notice demonstrated the readiness of Boeing and Commonwealth personnel and the sustainment system to respond as needed. “I had no doubts we were going to do it. When we sat down and mapped it out, there were 80 items we identified in that first day we needed, and we never missed delivering on one,” Gray said. “There’s always more work to do than people and materiel to get it done, so it was all about that planning and coordination and that’s what our sustainment model provides. We didn’t bring on any more people to do that surge. “Our sustainment model allowed us the agility to re-prioritise with our existing resources, and deliver what we needed.” Boeing provides sustainment for a large number of ADF air platforms – Super Hornets and Growlers at Amberley, Wedgetail and C-17 also at Amberley, Wedgetail and classic Hornets at RAAF Williamtown, P-8A Poseidon at RAAF Edinburgh, and CH‑47F Chinook helicopters at Townsville. MAY-JUNE 2018 47
RAAF 82WG maintenance personnel pose with one of their jets for a late afternoon photo op. DEFENCE
Where once the ADF acquired new aircraft and uniformed personnel conducted most support, that has progressively been moved to industry. But how industry engages in this process has also evolved, moving from transactional contracting where the Commonwealth specifies what needs to be done, to relational contracting. Gray said this gave them the freedom to innovate to achieve better outcomes. “We are all about outcomes for the platform,” he said. “The contracting arrangements in our model take advantage of flexibility, agility to move the workforce around, to use contractor processes for procurement, (and) for IT systems which enable us to provide services quicker and faster and cheaper to the Commonwealth. “All the stars have aligned to provide us the opportunity to do something better, (and) both Defence and industry are fully involved in taking advantage of that alignment. “I believe that what we are doing, both in terms of how the Commonwealth is organising themselves and from a Boeing perspective, with the model we have for sustainment we are taking great strides to provide better sustainment services. Super Hornet and Growler are the lead on this.” Despite being initially ordered as a 10-year ‘bridging capability’, the RAAF’s service life for Super Hornets is now expected to be up to 30 years. There is a sustainment agreement for an initial five-year period, with options to extend based on satisfactory performance outcomes. Gray said the Commonwealth had made it quite clear they wanted
long-term relationships with industry partners. “As long as we continue to provide value services, we will be supporting those platforms through life of type,” he said. “That gives us the opportunity to take a very long-term view on how we provide sustainment services. “Our big focus is the platform steward role – what is the best way to manage these platforms through to life of type. That could be structural integrity, combat survivability, explosive ordnance management. There are many examples of where our model, taking a platform-first life-of-type view, provides better outcomes for defence.” Gray said many Super Hornet spares were procured through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, but in times of need and for efficiency, ‘big’ DEFENCE
Boeing had provided parts straight from its St Louis production line. The last time Australia deployed combat aircraft operationally was during Operation Falconer in 2003 when 14 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from 75 Squadron operated from Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar for about four months during the invasion of Iraq. For Okra, fewer aircraft were deployed at any one time, but they did so for much longer, flying many more hours in much longer duration missions. Initially, the Super Hornets, plus the RAAF KC-30A refuelling aircraft and E-7A Wedgetail, all operated from the Australian facility at Al-Minhad Air Base (AMAB) in the United Arab Emirates. Later, Hornets and the Wedgetail operated from al-Dhafra Air Base, also in the UAE, from where US and French aircraft also flew in the campaign against Daesh. That allowed the RAAF to better leverage US support. Gray said Boeing deployed no personnel to the Middle East to support RAAF Super Hornets. “We didn’t need to. We were able to provide the services that we needed from Australia. The aircraft is very reliable. We didn’t need to send anyone over.” But Boeing did operate a 24-hour hotline to handle queries from the Middle East any time of day or night. Gray said there was still a long logistics tail to support the deployment. “It’s the flyaway kit, it’s scheduled maintenance. It’s the calibration schedules for all the support and test equipment. It’s explosive ordnance cartridges. They have shelf-lives. Batteries have lives.” While the initial Super Hornet deployment to Okra in 2014-15 went
SUPER SUSTAINMENT well, their second deployment in 201718 went even better. GPCAPT Adam Spinks, Officer Commanding (OC) the Air Combat Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (ACEASPO) said they continually reviewed and refined exactly how to support the platform across all of our activities. “When we came back from Okra 1, we sat down with the squadrons and the wing, industry partners and ourselves to look at how we went in all facets of support for the deployment,” he said. “We were able to roll a lot of those lessons into Okra 2 for our second time round which allowed us a far more efficient activity.” Commanding Officer (CO) of ACEASPO, WGCDR Jackie Churchill said lessons learned from the first deployment helped both the RAAF and Boeing. “We knew what we had to take, we knew all the tasks that needed to be done. A communications plan was establishing to say who needed to be contacted and when. So, it was relatively straightforward.” One of the lessons learned was to maintenance-groom aircraft ahead of deployment to minimise maintenance required in theatre. “They managed the aircraft so that they minimised scheduled servicing conducted in theatre by completing some early and pushing some out to
later,” WGCDR Churchill said. “The fleet management done by Boeing was actually quite intricate, and delivered the result that we needed.” ACEASPO Chief Engineer WGCDR Scott Parry said significant lessons from Okra 1 related to the supply pipeline, how long it took to get parts to and from the Middle East, and what should be included in the flyaway kit, the basic set of spares and stores for a deployment. “Certainly, the flyaway kit preparations for Okra 2 was a lot more
mature and that ultimately led to a much smoother operation where you don’t have as many pop-up or shortterm requirements to shoot things over,” he said. “The logistics pipeline and footprint is a key for success in operations because you don’t have the normal supply pipeline and the warehouse just next to your aircraft.” WGCDR Parry said Okra morphed into processes that became more like business as usual. “We did have people tasked with making sure that Okra worked well, but we didn’t have to ramp up large teams to go and do it,” he said. “We have multiple tasks in the organisation at any one time, this was just an additional task to make sure the specifics of Okra were managed.” WGCDR Parry said Okra was a good example of how CASG (Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group) was meeting the requirement of the First Principles Review, and that their SPO design was working, particularly its linkages with industry. “The main task for the Commonwealth personnel in the SPO was assurance, oversight and reporting. Preparation and sustainment activities were all managed by Boeing,” he said. “Successfully sustaining the Super Hornets in Okra wasn’t a big deal because it was just the way we normally do business.”
Due to the extreme desert temperatures in the Middle East which can often exceed 50 degree celsius, much of the maintenance work was conducted at night. DEFENCE
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ECLIPSING THE MARKET Innovative logistics solutions for the military and commercial markets BY MAX BLENKIN
s the ADF acquires new capabilities, it requires the means to store and transport all the associated stores, spares and support equipment, an under-appreciated but essential enabling requirement. Canberra company Eclips Engineering has come up with a range of innovative solutions for ADF requirements, based on its expertise at doing clever stuff with shipping containers. Eclips managing director Shaun Moore said their JMILS (Joint Modular Intermodal Logistics System) was set to be the logistics workhorse of defence forces, and it’s not just the ADF that is interested. “We are currently in discussions with the UK MoD who say they have a real need now, and we’re able to say ‘this is ready to go now’,” he told ADBR. JMILS stemmed from a requirement for Project LAND 121 Phase 3B – the long-running project to replace the Army’s fleet of Mack heavy trucks and
Unimog medium trucks with a fleet of 2,500 new medium and heavy vehicles, 3,858 modules, and 1,753 trailers. That deal was won by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia, for which Eclips designed and delivered 2,157 ISO 1C flat racks, a steel platform on which vehicles and other stores can be fixed for easy transport on another vehicle. With suitable interfaces, flat racks can also be used to transport spares such as complete engines, transmissions, tools or ancillary equipment such as crane fittings or shovels, and fittings for a dozer or backhoe. Eclips delivered all 2,157 units on budget and ahead of schedule. “We finished that project and are very proud. It’s probably the best in the world because of Defence’s rigorous design processes,” Moore said. The flat rack is just the first element of JMILS. The system also includes what’s called a container rollout platform (CROP), slightly smaller than a
flat rack, which is transportable inside a standard ISO shipping container. With the aid of a forklift, CROP can simply be rolled out for easy access to other elements of the system, such as a joint modular intermodal container (JMIC) or stackable plastic case (SPC). JMIC is a US concept for which Eclips has the Australian licence. SPCs are made in Melbourne and are designed to fit snugly inside a JMIC case. One of the company’s fundamental objectives is to come up with storage systems which means no-one, whether soldier or civilian, will ever need to enter the confines of a shipping container to stack or retrieve stores. Taking the JMILS concept further, Eclips was contracted through the former Rapid Prototyping, Development and Evaluation (RPDE) program to develop a system to store and transport 155mm gun projectiles and charge bags inside a JMIC container. “We developed a system that sits inside that box to host the ammunition and the charge bags,” Moore said.
NEXT GEN LOGISTICS - ECLIPS ENGINEERING
For LAND 121 Phase 3B, Eclips designed and delivered 2,157 ISO 1C flat racks, a steel platform on which vehicles and other stores can be fixed for easy transport on another vehicle . ECLIPS
Storing and transporting artillery ammunition is no trivial requirement. Eclips says an Army division in intensive combat could need 900 to 3,500 tonnes of supplies each day, of which half could be artillery ammunition. Fuel and tank ammo each make up 10 per cent, as does food and water. “From an ammunition point of view, in your JMIC boxes you can go from the fabricator all the way through to the frontline without anybody actually touching the box,” Moore said. While much of Eclips’ current work is in the defence space, it hasn’t always been that way. Eclips was founded in 2007 by Moore, a former soldier who spent 22 years in the Army including deployments to Somalia in 1993 and then twice to East Timor. He started out as a digger and was eventually promoted to warrant officer class two, then commissioned to captain and departed as a major to run his own business. Eclips now has a staff of around 20, with head office in Canberra and small presences in
Brisbane and soon Mexico City. “We are a veteran-owned systems engineering company,” Moore said. “We started with the name Sea Box International which we changed last year because too many people thought we were a shopfront for an American company which is not the case. “We actually had a partnership with Sea Box Inc where we would market each other’s products,” he added. But “the perception of being perceived as an American company outweighed the benefits of the association.” Eclips is now wholly Australianowned by its three Australian partners. Working as a consultant and project manager for the firm PS Management Consultants, Eclips’ first job was to construct a new urban training facility for Joint Combined Training Capability (JCTC) at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland. This was constructed of shipping containers, allowing it to be readily reconfigured into different layouts. Moore said the cost-effectiveness of shipping containers was the key to this project – they are readily available, inexpensive, durable and easily modified. “When I finished that project, I thought there’s an opportunity to open an Australian company that specialises in doing things for the military with shipping containers,” he said. “I partnered with ex-RAAF engineer Bruce Power who owned PS Management Consultants and Mike Davis who had 35 years in the container industry, and we decided to form this
company which was mostly based on building urban training facilities.” The next big project was a similar urban training facility at the Townsville Field Training Area. Then there were some smaller facilities for the Australian Federal Police, training containers for the Navy allowing mechanics to practise working on diesel engines in confined spaces, and deployable calibration and trials laboratories for the then Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), now Defence Science (DST) Group. But there’s only so many modular training facilities the ADF really needs, and once constructed, they require minimal upkeep. But the resources boom produced strong demand for modular facilities in remote locations. “Probably our most successful modular construction job was an 850man kitchen up in the Pilbara for Atlas iron ore. We are very proud of that project,” he said. “We also built some modular cyclone shelters for Atlas iron ore. We actually filled the floor with concrete so it’s not going anywhere.” The company pitched its storm shelters to other companies in the cyclone-prone Pilbara region of WA. For the miners, a looming cyclone means shutting down activities and getting personnel off site, all at substantial cost. “But often the cyclone doesn’t even cross the coast so it’s a waste of time,” he said. “So we came up with a marketing campaign which clearly wasn’t very successful because we didn’t sell any more: ‘Do you suffer premature evacuation – if you do, Sea
The joint modular intermodal container (JMIC) system or stackable plastic case (SPC) is a US concept for which Eclips has the Australian licence . ECLIPS
MAY-JUNE 2018 51
The urban training facility, part of the Joint Combined Training Capability (JCTC) at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, was Eclips’ first major contract for the ADF. ECLIPS
Box has the pill for you’. “After that our life changed quite significantly, and we got heavily engaged in the oil and gas and the mining industries,” he added. “We were approached by Chevron to build a whole pile of purposedesigned commercial platforms. These platforms were all standard containers and standard flat racks, but there were special environmental requirements.” The flat racks were to transport large and heavy equipment which could not be fitted into standard shipping containers. Moore said their next project was a real life-changer. Chevron came back with a requirement for transporting and storing equipment in work packs for the vast Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island. “We designed a container rollout warehousing system (CROWS),” he explained. “This is a logistics platform that rolls out of a container. It also serves as shelving inside a container and is also a field warehousing system.
We designed and tested this platform, and built 4,000 of those inside 11 months.” CROWS allows everything that’s needed for a particular section of the gas plant, including all tooling, pipes, brackets and fittings, to be stored on site and, when needed, transported to the workplace for installation. “We patented this and we are marketing around the world. We have had some sales,” Moore said. Also patented is their pipe intermodal logistics system. “We had an idea that if we could design a clamp to clamp the pipe together and therefore embrace the structural integrity of the pipe as the platform, the pipe itself is the platform,” he said. “The clamps have corner castings on them so they can be moved around like a shipping container. We did that for Exxon Mobil. The pipe came from Italy up to the highlands of Papua New Guinea.” Hence the company’s interest in setting up an office in Mexico City to market their products to the Latin
American resources sector. None of this is the sort of technology attracts mainstream media attention. But this changed recently when Eclips unveiled its deployable Container Roll Out Solar System (CROSS), with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) providing $289,725 for design, manufacture and testing. This system is a series of solar panels mounted on CROWS, stored and transported inside a 20 or 40-foot shipping container. Seven CROWS, each with five solar panels go inside a 20foot container. These can be quickly deployed to produce instant power – more than 15 kilowatts per 20-foot container, and more than 30 kilowatts per 40foot container. In fact, Moore said, in their recent media demonstration in Canberra it took longer to remove the container from the transport truck than it did to deploy the panels. This system has obvious applications for deployed forces and remote bases, reducing the requirement for diesel fuel and noisy
NEXT GEN LOGISTICS - ECLIPS ENGINEERING
generators. But it also has substantial civil application for emergency services and disaster relief, or even to earn revenue for a local council with some unused open space. As with Defence requirements for large modular facilities, demand for facilities for the resources sector has diminished as it transitions from the development to the production phase. Moore said they had seen that round the world. “The big boom is when they are building it. When they turn the taps on, they need far fewer workers,” he said. But with the government modernising much of the defence force equipment, Moore sees considerable opportunities within Australia. “It is just a funny market. There’s not a great deal on the table right now, but in two weeks that could change to monstrous amounts. There are so many bids and proposals out there.” There’s the next phase of Project LAND 121 to provide sustainment and facilities for the new vehicle fleet, and for LAND 400 to acquire the new combat reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles. Under LAND 400 Army is acquiring 211 Rheinmetall Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles to replace its fleet of ageing Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs). The, the next step in LAND 400 is the Phase 3 acquisition of new armoured vehicles to replace Vietnam War-era M113 armoured personnel carriers.
Below and right - Eclips’ container rollout warehousing system (CROWS) is a logistics platform that rolls out of or stays inside a container as shelving, and allows equipment to be stored and transported. Eclips has built more than 4,000 CROWS systems in 11 months for the gas industry. ECLIPS
“We don’t think they have anywhere near what they need, and for every new capability that comes in, they have a logistics problem of how they move their stuff,” Moore said. He said that all of Eclips’ engineering and innovation was done in Australia by Australian engineers. “We have a range of suppliers in Australia and overseas that we use to best meet the needs of
our customers who we have been using for a long time.” Moore said in their bids they always offered two options, to manufacture either locally or in China. This is very much budget-driven with construction in China typically a third the cost in Australia. “When you want 4,000 units in five months, there’s only one place in the world you are going to do that.”
The deployable container rollout solar system (CROSS) can produce between 15 and 30 kilowatts of power for a deployed location. ECLIPS
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Applying the lessons learned on the Air Warfare Destroyer to future shipbuilding programs BY MAX BLENKIN
ith the last of the three Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) now n the water, the naval officer in charge of the program says whchever company is chosen to build the SEA5000 Future Frigates will score gold by taking on the AWD workforce. Commodore Craig Bourke says what had emerged from the AWD reform program was a very skilled and competent team of workers who would be infinitely valuable to any organisation
seeking to embark on continuous shipbuilding. “Here in South Australia, the skilled and competent shipbuilders are currently working the AWD program,” he told ADBR. “You need to be able to attract those to execute any program in South Australia. In the government’s continuous shipbuilding program, they are absolute gold. They are what will allow anybody to succeed in any of the other future programs.” It wasn’t always so. Famously, former
Defence Minister David Johnston declared in Parliament in 2014: “You wonder why I’m worried about ASC and what they’re delivering to the Australian taxpayer? You wonder why I wouldn’t trust them to build a canoe?” Johnston was slammed for this remark made in obvious frustration during a heated question time exchange, but he was only stating what he and others well knew. The AWD program had run into big problems, which prompted the government to
AWD LESSONS LEARNED
launch the reform program in 2015. That involved engaging fresh management expertise and re-baselining cost and delivery schedules and it’s proved a complete success. The AWD program is now approaching an end. HMAS Hobart, the first vessel – the Navy terms them DDGs rather than AWDs – is undergoing extended trials. Vessel number two is currently undergoing trials and will be commissioned as HMAS Brisbane later this year, and vessel number three,
NUSHIP Sydney was launched at the ASC yard at Osborne on May 19. The government’s long-awaited decision on which of three contenders – Spanish shipbuilder Navantia with its F5000 design, British defence company BAE Systems Australia with the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri with its FREMM – is set to be announced early in June. The aim is to start construction of the first frigate in 2020, and the government allocated funding of $52 million in the budget for preliminary
work and to set up project offices in Adelaide and overseas. Significantly, the government isn’t telling any of the contenders to use a particular shipbuilder. That’s up to them to decide who will build their vessels. But as CDRE Bourke notes, the only skilled and competent shipbuilding workforce in Adelaide – where Future Frigates and the first two SEA1180 Offshore Patrol Vessels will be constructed – is finishing the last of the three AWDs. That work will continue for around another 18 months, concluding in late 2019 or early 2020. “I would never tell you we have it 100 per cent aligned such that one day an AWD worker puts down his screwdriver or spanner…and the next morning he walks in and picks up a spanner or screwdriver on an OPV or frigate. But we are going to go close to doing that,” he said. CDRE Bourke said whichever company builds the Future Frigates won’t be confronting the same problems as at the start AWD program when there was no-one who had worked on building a ship for a decade. Considering HMAS Hobart was laid down in September 2012, even workers who came across from the Collins side hadn’t been involved in submarine construction since the last boat, HMAS Rankin was launched in 2001. And although the last of the Anzac frigates was launched in 2004, these vessels were constructed at the Williamstown yard of Tenix (now BAE Systems Australia) which then constructed a pair of Protector class patrol vessels for New Zealand. Subsequently the yard constructed the island superstructures for the two Canberra class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships. CDRE Bourke said the LHD proceeded smoothly thanks to enduring shipyard skills from the Anzac and Protector programs. “But AWD didn’t have anyone like that,” he added. “They ended up seeking to put block construction work into Williamstown, and it overloaded the workforce. Williamstown responded by recruiting a large number of inexperienced people, and they had problems on the AWD blocks. “But they didn’t have problems on the LHD blocks, but people never put the two together. It takes time to build the proficiency and skills to be comfortable and proficient and efficient in a certain industry area.” MAY-JUNE 2018 55
CDRE Bourke said welding a ship was different to welding a truck trailer. “It is the same base skill used in a different context, and it takes a while to become skilled and competent at it,” he said, adding that the AWD workforce were now competent shipbuilders with currency. “These are people who now know how to build a ship, and they have had recent experience at doing that. They haven’t had any skills degradation because of lack of practice,” he said. “Which corporate structure uses that skill-set is immaterial, provided that skill-set is used.” The problems with the AWD program have been exhaustively dissected, analysed and commented upon. In 2007, the government chose the Spanish F-100 design, and adopted novel arrangements for construction through an alliance of the then DMO, ASC Shipbuilding which is a subsidiary of government-owned ASC, and US company Raytheon as the systems integrator. Navantia wasn’t represented on the alliance and there was no prime with overall responsibility. Many see these omissions as the genesis of the issues that came later. Each ship comprised 31 modules
Above - The final hull block of what would become HMAS Hobart is consolidated by the AWD Alliance at ASC Shipbuilding’s yard at Osborne in Adelaide in July 2013. Below - AWD Alliance Program Manager CDRE Craig Bourke is flanked by AWD Alliance General Manager Paul Evans (L), and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne (R) in front of HMAS Hobart. DEFENCE
which were constructed by ASC in Adelaide, BAE at Williamstown, and Forgacs in Newcastle, while consolidation of these modules was performed at Osborne by ASC Shipbuilding. Some modules didn’t fit, and there were differing levels of quality and productivity at the different yards, with regular re-allocation of block work. Numerous early design changes, a cumbersome process to action these changes with Navantia, plus the purchase of design drawings that lacked the detail required for production all contributed to the program’s problems. Add to that, launching construction in a new yard. Then add to that the very considerable non-recurring initial design ‘Australianisation’ – which one estimate said a million manhours was spent adapting everything from ladder and hatch layouts to cabling, pipe runs and paint to meet Australian standards. All this was hardly unique to Australia. Plenty of other nations have encountered similar and worse problems in constructing a first of class ship in a new facility, but the end result was that HMAS Hobart ran 30 months later than planned. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Major Projects Report for 2016-
AWD LESSONS LEARNED
17 says the original 2007 budget for the three vessels was $7.2 billion, but as at June last year that had blown out to $9.09 billion. As the problems accumulated, the DMO hired UK consultancy First Marine International (FMI) to assess AWD shipyard performance against international standards. FMI put the global benchmark for warship production at 60 man-hours per compensated ship tonne, but it was always expected Australia would pay a premium for domestic construction of a complex ship, and DMO set a target of 80 man-hours per tonne for AWD. But FMI found productivity an eyewatering 150 man-hours per tonne on ship number one. This figure has since much improved, with NUSHIP Sydney around 15 per cent over the benchmark in labour costs which is comfortably within the DMO estimate. In fact, Australia is now regarded as comparable in performance to other nations which have built Aegis warships, the US, Spain and Japan. “I would love to tell that’s because we are just ‘red-hot’,” CDRE Bourke said. “I should be honest with you and tell you it is also indicative of just how bad we were on the first ship.” Since the reform program and the re-baselining of the budget and delivery
schedule, the program is within budget and on time, and launch of NUSHIP Sydney is actually scheduled to occur a few days ahead of the originally planned date. “We are now on budget. In some areas we are doing slightly better, and in some areas slightly worse. Overall, we are on budget and on schedule to the reform targets,” CDRE Bourke said. “Clearly the reform was the mechanism by which we fixed up all those controls that enable the project to run effectively and efficiently.” The ASC Shipbuilding yard now has around 1,600 workers, down from a peak of 2,100. Over its life more than 5,000 workers have participated in the AWD program. “With a productivity improvement of over 60 per cent, had we been in control of the program pre-reform, we would never have got to 2,100,” CDRE Bourke said. As the problems became apparent and criticism mounted, many immediately blamed lazy Australian workers, but Bourke said that was plain wrong. “Productivity is a much more holistic measure of management’s ability to correctly plan, execute, schedule and task work, even get it done in the right order,” he said. “Everyone instantly took that as poor Australian work ethic or lazy Australian workers,
which was totally inappropriate. “What it actually was was poor productivity due to lack of competent shipbuilding expertise,” he added. “That really related to how to take a design, how to plan to build that design, how to schedule to build that design, and how to sequence the work orders and supervise the workforce to make sure that design was built in an effective and efficient manner.” In closing, CDRE Bourke said he wanted to make sure that the lessons they had learned the hard way on AWD were shared with those people involved in the future programs, including the OPVs and frigates. “We do that inside the department and with industry partners. The Australian taxpayer should not have to pay to relearn those lessons,” he said. AWD work will continue to wind down, and there will come a point when there is zero AWD work. “But there is still a substantial amount of work for us to do once the ship is in the water,” he said. “We have a good year and a half’s work after this, powering along, completing the fitout, energising and setting to work the systems, testing and proving them, and finally selling them off to the customer. “Just as we are finishing up, there will be other people here with lots to do.”
The Hobart class is the first guided missile destroyer (DDG) operated by the RAN since the last of Charles F Adams/Perth class was paid off in 2001, although the air-defence mission has been taken over in-part by the upgraded Perry/Adelaide class FFGs, and the Anzac class frigates. DEFENCE
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COMMUNICATION FOR SUCCESS
Why communication with a human connection is vital to Australia’s defence BY CHRIS HUET
f you want to change the world, start off by making your bed”. That’s the advice US Navy SEAL Admiral William H McRaven gave to the University of Texas class of 2014. The admiral’s speech is popular among my social media connections because it reflects the traditional military focus on the details. If kids these days don’t have the self-discipline to get the little things right, the thought goes, then how will they make big things happen? We love details in defence. Our briefings, minutes and presentations are full of them. Our planners, engineers and analysts thrive on them. If you’ve been to a defence conference, read an RFT or briefed your executive, you know we love details. But these historical arrangements are no longer suitable for success in the 21st century. Defence, and by extension, defence industry’s focus on detail, structure and process is holding us back. Worse, we will fail in this rapidly changing landscape if we keep doing things the way we have. The skill that our defence, security and industry leaders need today is not technical or detail-based. It is founded in the humanities, and it is grown in
relationships. The skill we need is the ability to communicate with a human connection. This communication is person-toperson. It reflects passion, conveys emotion and demonstrates empathy.
We must Communicate, not Plan, our way to Success
Our world is changing rapidly. We operate in a fast-paced environment where multiple interdependent factors react in unpredictable ways. Non-state actors, with access to technologies previously controlled by state agencies and militaries, create volatility. Traditional nation-states use mass combined with the same technologies to flex their might. Beyond this, global challenges such as climate change, dwindling resources and the potential for financial disruption also put a stress on strategic relations and global security. The hierarchical structures and linear processes of our defence organisations are poorly suited to this complex environment. Strategic planning, chains of command and traditional contracts are less relevant than in the past, and are potentially useless. General Stanley McCrystal
recognises this in his book Team of Teams. Applying his lessons from commanding the Special Operations Task Force in Iraq, McCrystal encourages militaries and businesses to break down traditional structures and create networks of small groups. These teams thrive through a “shared consciousness” that creates trust and a common purpose. Regular face-to-face, transparent communication enables the organisation to adapt quickly to changes in the environment and respond more rapidly. This communication requires empathy and cross-cultural understanding, to share our ideas clearly and to understand those of others. We connect through emotion, not details or plans. In this context, leaders succeed by passionately delivering a vision and giving their teams the power to act on that vision.
We must Feel, not Think, our way to Cultural Change
Our organisations recognise the need to change, even if they are slow to adapt. In response to environmental challenges, we are evolving our cultures to become
understanding. Examples of desired behaviours in action are powerful motivators to change, much more so than online training programs or pamphlets.
We must Share, not Design, our exploitation of Technological Change
more innovative, more inclusive and less risk-averse. Cultural change requires persuasive leadership. Facts and data are not enough – we need to know the why. To make change stick, our leaders must connect to the heart as well as the brain, through story-telling, empathy and passion. LTGEN David Morrison’s video on unacceptable behaviour in the Australian Army is memorable for his heartfelt and clear directives: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”, and, “If that doesn’t suit you, then get out!”. The Army chief’s face and voice show us that he believes what he is saying. He took a risk showing such passion publicly, but communicating with this clarity is necessary when past approaches to cultural change have failed. It is a video worth a thousand breakout room posters. As humans, we are also moved by a narrative. Although defence training gives us an appreciation for data and analysis, these things do not naturally persuade us. We think in stories, remember in stories and are motivated to act by stories. Personal stories can nurture trust in our leaders through creating an emotional connection and shared
Much of the change in defence is focused on digital technologies, how we can exploit them and the threat they present in an adversary’s hands. But we cannot allow the technical details to consume our attention at the expense of our human resources. It is not enough to develop these technologies. We need to talk about how we are going to use them, how they interact with humans, how we are going to contract, develop and support them. To do this rapidly and responsively requires relationships and open communication. A lot of the detailed work of the future will be completed by machines using automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence. The digital age requires fewer number-crunchers, programmers and sequential thinkers. Successful defence and security staff of the future will have non-technical skills of persuasion, collaboration and creativity. We must be wary of the current focus on STEM education. While we will always need brilliant technical minds, they alone are not sufficient. We need to share ideas passionately, debating not just the what and how but also the why. No matter how brilliant, an idea that stays in someone’s mind dies. When addressing the ADM Congress in 2018, LTGEN Angus Campbell (right) recognised this and promoted the concept of STEAM, which adds arts and humanities to the technical skills. He spoke of “partnerships of thought and action” based on sharing ideas. LTGEN Campbell promoted conferences for the connection they facilitated, and said, “Connection is not an end in itself. What really matters is the communication it allows.” It is through communication that we will maximise the benefit of new technologies.
To be adaptive and resilient our defence and security organisations require a clear and compelling vision, rapid information sharing, and empathy to motivate our people through a human connection. Cultural change is necessary for defence to become more innovative, not just in technology but also in tactics, logistics support, contracts and structures. We must base this cultural change on the sharing of ideas through conversations, relationships and stories. Let’s communicate more with emotion and empathy. Let’s show passion in our messages. Let’s focus as much on the why as we do on the what, how and when. Only this way are we going to succeed in the 21st century. Chris Huet has over thirty years of experience in public and private sector leadership and technical and creative communication. He spent twenty years in the RAAF as an F/A-18 pilot before moving to consulting and business development. Chris is also an award-winning spoken word poet and two-time TEDx presenter. He draws on practical knowledge and the latest research to help leaders speak more effectively, to inform, excite and persuade their audiences. This article is the first in a series on communication in Defence. The next will discuss some of the things we need to stop doing if we are to be more human in the way we communicate. DEFENCE
Less What, more Why
The services, Defence, and defence industry are structured, orderly and process-focused. And for a good reason – the consequences of errors are potentially dire. But in this rapidly changing world, facts, data and analysis are not enough. MAY-JUNE 2018 59
RAN tests Cooperative Engagement Capability on new Hobart class DDGs BY ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN
he Royal Australian Navy has successfully tested a new Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) that its SEA 4000 Hobart class destroyers will be equipped with. The tests were conducted in March and early April aboard HMAS Hobart and NUSHIP Brisbane in the Gulf of St Vincent south-west of Adelaide. CEC is designed to enhance the capability of a surface fleet by combining ship-borne radar and fire control data into a common picture, allowing one ship to engage an adversary based on the other ship’s data. Australia is only the second nation to integrate CEC after the US. “The new Cooperative Engagement Capability is a significant step-change for Australia as we face increasing threats from cruise missiles and advanced aircraft,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said in a statement. “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. “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.” The ADF will also integrate CEC with other assets such as the RAAF’s E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft, its future AIR 6500 Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) program, and the SEA 5000 Future Frigate’s Aegis combat management system to provide a long-range, cooperative and layered air defence. “As the combat system integrator for Australia’s Air Warfare Destroyers, Raytheon Australia considers this announcement a critical milestone for the AWD program and the Royal
Australian Navy, with Australia as the first international partner outside of the United States to gain access to this technology,” Michael Ward, managing director of Raytheon Australia said in a separate statement. CEC has been described as a system that “promises to transform naval surface warfare”, one that has been enabled principally by the introduction and evolution of the Aegis combat system. In his paper The Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) – Transforming Naval Anti-air Warfare published in 2007, William D O’Neil says “…the key to CEC is the ability to move from track-telling to transmitting complete radar data, dwell by dwell.” A ‘dwell’ is described as a “single radar ‘look’ at a target, which may involve multiple pulses in rapid succession but at the same beam position.” O’Neil said this has been enabled by advances in computer speed from the use of faster digital components in
radar receivers, and by computerised digital communications which permit faster transmission speeds without the need of greater bandwidths or increased power. These advances have effectively seen the first distributed lethality utilised by naval platforms. The concept of CEC goes back to the 1970s when the US Navy became more aware of the proliferation of advanced high-speed anti-ship missiles, and the limitations of a ship’s radar mastmounted radar which gives a radar horizon in the low tens of miles. The US Navy’s concept of operations at the time was to engage an attacking force as far away as possible from the aircraft carrier around which a task group was commonly structured, hence the development of the Grumman F-14/ Hughes AWG-9/AIM-54 long-range interceptor combination and the SM-2 SAM in the 1960s and 70s, and the first generation of Aegis combat systems in the 1970s and 80s. Vessels currently communicate with other vessels and defending aircraft primarily via Link-11 and Link16 to share track and early warning information. But these links come with a high level of latency which does not readily allow for reliable fire control solutions to be developed when sensor data is shared. Where CEC differs is, it is not reliant on these systems and instead uses an organic network which shares raw data, not tracks. The system is sensorambivalent, so it builds a composite track from any number of airborne and surface sensors, thus giving the ship a much greater ‘horizon’ than that offered by the radar on its own mast. Further, if one of those sensors is destroyed or disabled, it has a ‘selfhealing’ ability to seek other sources of information from other sensors in order to retain its air picture, and thus retain an accurate fire control solution on any approaching threat. The US Navy says 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 amongst cooperating units (CU). It says 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. But while CEC has been integrated successfully with Aegis and other common sensors of US-origin, it’s not
an automatic ‘plug-and-play’ if new sensors of non-US origin were to be added. The CEC software needs to be matched to the sensor, and that’s not a trivial exercise – regardless of what ‘language’ a sensor speaks, it needs to be understood by the receiving CEC node in order to be integrated with the air picture. For example, sensors such as the new CEA phased-array radar being integrated with the SEA 5000 Future Frigates will likely need to undergo a period of analysis and testing in order to work with CEC. Any vessel or aircraft that has a CEC capability becomes a node in the network. While ships were originally thought of only as CEC nodes, this can now be applied to land-based aircraft, especially those which have advanced digital sensors such as the E-7A. Possible future airborne nodes could also be carried by the P-8A Poseidon or even something like a KC-30 MRTT. Smaller aircraft such as the F-35, EA-18G Growler or the MH-60R Romeo Seahawk can feed their sensor data into the nodes and thus the wider CEC network, but cannot carry the cabinet-style ‘boxes’ required to act as a node themselves. Importantly in the joint-force scenario, land-based sensors such as those planned to be acquired under Project AIR 6500 can also be integrated with a CEC network, especially when deployed in
the littorals in proximity to a friendly surface fleet. CEC manages the sensor resources it has at its disposal, and can task disparate sensors appropriately if a threat is detected in order to build the clearest possible kill-chain. Jane’s has reported that in a US Navy demonstration conducted with 11 platforms or nodes, the CEC was capable of tracking more than one thousand targets over a two million square kilometre range area. Another characteristic of CEC is that it has very short transmit and receive periods, so combined with its selfhealing abilities, it is therefore resistant to jamming and cyber effects. Apart from a few boxes, CEC is not a physical thing which floats or has wings or wheels, so getting funding to develop such a system and equip your forces appropriately can be challenging. But when considered in the whole, it is far greater than the sum of its parts. The RAN and the Australian government appears to have recognised this opportunity and has wisely committed to it. “Most cases of notably transformative technologies are associated with vehicles, weapons, and/or sensors,” says O’Neil. “CEC is none of these things and yet figures on every list of major transformative innovations by virtue of its ability to increase the utilisation and effectiveness of existing and future sensors and weapons.”
New sensors coming into service such as the CEA phased-array radar for the SEA 5000 Future Frigates will need to be integrated with CEC in order to contribute to a naval task group’s air picture. DEFENCE
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Lessons from the upgrading of the RAN’s Collins class submarines BY FELICITY MILLAR
In this essay Felicity Millar explores the issues faced by the Collins class submarines throughout the 1990s to 2000s, demonstrating the need to minimise the risk of similar problems occurring with the Shortfin Barracudas. She argues that lessons can be learnt from the difficult introduction of the current fleet to offset future risks with the new submarines to ensure the delivery of a potent and agile naval capability to protect Australia’s national interests.
n April 2016, Australia announced that it had awarded France’s Naval Group (formerly DCNS) the contract for the construction of a new fleet of submarines to replace the ageing Collins class submarines. Australia will spend AU$50 billion on 12 new Shortfin Barracuda boats (a conventional variant of the nuclearpowered Barracuda boats being built for France) as its preferred solution over the Japanese Soryu boat and the German Type 212. There were notable issues faced by the Collins class submarine fleet in the 1990s and 2000s. The impact of these issues, and the resultant additional expenditure and service entry delays
demonstrates the need to minimise the risk of similar problems potentially occurring with the Shortfin Barracuda boats. Lessons can be learnt from the introduction of the current fleet to limit risks with the new boats and improve project outcomes. Early policy decisions such as access to information relating to sea trials of the French version of the boats, single site construction with full involvement
of Australian expertise, and better access to changing combat technology and increased oversight, all look to how past mistakes can be harnessed to improve the design, construction, and maintenance of the future fleet. Australia’s history of naval and military construction dates from the building of the HMAS Bataan destroyer in WWII. Yet, to date the Collins class has been the only submarine to be built on Australian shores. The Shortfin Barracuda will be initially constructed in France, but the assembly and the combat system fitout will occur in Adelaide, which helps create jobs in Australia. This decision sought to address the lack of faith in Australia’s shipbuilding industry, particularly Australia’s inability to construct and maintain the new fleet that has lingered since the 1999 McIntosh-Prescott Report into the Collins class problems. This lingering mentality was evident when former Defence Minister David Johnston declared in Parliament in 2014 that he would not trust ASC Shipbuilding to “build a canoe.”
Upgrading the Collins class Australia’s current Collins class submarine fleet is ageing, and a new
IFRS ESSAY – UPGRADING COLLINS
class is needed to update and expand naval capacity through the introduction of contemporary combat systems and engineering to address strategic requirements and face emerging threats. Although highly effective, the Collins class is in the back end of its commissioned life with the RAN. Nonetheless, the Turnbull government announced in October 2017 that the Collins class would undergo a $540 million enhancement, further rectifying issues and removing it from the Department of Defence’s Projects of Concern list. The Commonwealth selected the design by France’s Naval Group for reasons that include Australia’s key position in the Indo-Pacific, and a desire to solidify regional influence and power. Choosing a submarine design is by its very nature political and replacing a whole class is highly expensive, so this large investment in Australia’s security will significantly influence the policymaking decisions within the political landscape in the region. The building of submarines has been a subject of controversy in Australia, partly because of the government’s decision to purchase the much more expensive French option, as opposed to the $20 billion off the shelf German model or the proven Japanese design. Of further concern is the transparency surrounding the Government’s decision-making processes, Australia’s submarine building capacity, and the
merits of a nuclear submarine fleet (as raised by significant political figures including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott), which Australia does not currently have the capability to support. The key disadvantage in purchasing the Shortfin Barracuda is that the first of the nuclear Barracudas for the French Navy, Suffren was initially expected to have been launched in 2017-18, but this is yet to occur and its sea trials and commissioning appears to have been delayed by at least 12 months into 2019. This means that there is no current knowledge of how the submarine will function or if there are any problems inherent within the original design. With the functionality of the design platform on which the Shortfin Barracuda design is based not yet available, any delays and issues with the French design will automatically delay progression of the design for the Australian fleet. This lack of available foresight or knowledge in advance of potential problems means this contract is a higher-risk option because it is difficult to predict or manage potential problems when commissioning and building this untested design. The proposed construction process for the boats mirrors those processes undertaken for the Collins class, one of the first submarines to be fully computer-designed. An overview of the known history of the Collins class suggests that there were several
major teething problems in the pursuit of a new submarine system. These problems include construction issues experienced during the welding of the forward hull sections of HMAS Collins by Kockums in Sweden. The modular approach meant individual components were constructed in Sweden and then transported to Adelaide for assembly. The use of unfamiliar materials and inaccurate measurements caused numerous problems, particularly the ineffective welding of the submarine hull. The management of these issues required Australian rectification of the welding, both at the time of assembly and again during a major service of the boats. The RAN expressed concerns with the level of noise that the fleet produced as issues with the propulsion system and the noise signature of the Collins design had resulted in a boat that was too noisy and recognisable – a shortcoming that undermined the stealth required for submarine warfare. This required design modification of the hull and additional application of carbon fibre/fibreglass sheets to alter the flow dynamics of the hull and reduce the excessive noise signature. Building a submarine, let alone a fleet, is a time-consuming process, resulting in technology warfare becoming rapidly outdated. This issue was evident at the completion of the Collins class production, given that the Rockwell
Despite now being considered some of the best conventional attack submarines in the world, the Collins class had a troubled beginning with an obsolete combat system, poor hull welds, hydrodynamic noise around the base of the sail, and noisy propellers. DEFENCE
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combat warfare system used for sonar detection and maritime strategy was already obsolete. Management of this outdated combat system required configuration and retrofitting of a newly developed system under the Fast Track program – a $1 billion program to replace the combat systems, whilst simultaneously improving stakeholder cooperation and reducing negative media and public perceptions. This further delayed Australia’s access to an effective fleet. As new combat warfare systems become available in the next decade, policy on the construction of these submarines must be flexible enough to accommodate these changes, unlike the experience with the Collins class. For example, one major issue identified in the 1980s by ASC Shipbuilding and the RAN was the change in the operating environment of the boat, and how the differences in the temperature of the water greatly affected the materials used and the noise signature. The design and material for the Barracuda therefore needs to be adaptable to the altered geo-physical environment found in the waters around Australia. Australia will need to redesign the vessel for Australian purposes as a diesel-electric submarine because the original design specification for the Barracuda Class is as a nuclear-powered vessel. Australia has not previously attempted such a
fundamental redesign. The capacity, deployment and utility of nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are intrinsically different, and the major changes that will be required could create a myriad of issues. The key risk in changing the propulsion system through such extensive redesign is that there will be a loss of coherence in the construction and commission phases of the resultant boat and the potential for delays like those seen with the current fleet. Lack of direction and integration with the contractors of the Collins class contributed to a sevenyear delay between the 1993 launch of HMAS Collins to eventual operational deployment in 2000.
Advantages of the Shortfin Barracuda acquisition
There are many advantages to choosing the French design, particularly its capacity to be specifically modified for Australia as a diesel-electric boat. A diesel-electric submarine is the obvious choice for the RAN because this technology ensures that they are very quiet, stealthy and hard to track. Australia’s fleet commanders are also highly aware of the capabilities of such a boat and experienced in how to effectively use it as part of naval strategy and warfare. The proposed use of jet propulsions, rather than propellers, will ensure that
the Shortfin Barracuda is a more viable strategic weapon, while maximising fuel efficiency. This benefit addresses the need for Australia to expand the geographical areas in which our submarines can obtain intelligence, especially in turbulent areas in our geopolitical region such as the South China Sea and the Middle Eastern reaches of the Indian Ocean. A complete redesign of the Barracuda class enables Australia to have its own custom-built and designed fleet rather than an ‘off-theshelf’ format designed for the needs of another country. The potential for the boats to be able to revert to nuclear propulsion, should Australia wish to acquire and develop the technology, is a further benefit of Shortfin Barracuda. Felicity Millar is a full-time student undertaking her Advanced Masters in National Security Policy at ANU, with an undergraduate degree in history and law. She has a keen interest in Australian sustainable strategic defence policy, particularly in the maritime sphere and the Indo-Pacific region. She has always been interested in submarines, tour guiding for the WA Maritime Museum on the HMAS Ovens during her undergraduate years, and the relevance of past government decisions on contemporary infrastructure policy.
Despite being developmental due to the switch from nuclear to conventional power, the Shortfin Barracuda promises much as a strategic asset. NAVAL GROUP
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