Volume 10 Number 4 - September 2013
New Navy helicopter to enter service in 2014
LHD Sea Trials â€˜Canberraâ€™ class LHD ready to put to sea
Defence White Paper 2013 Revolution or Evolution Print Post - 100004497
Navy on the move
New ships, helicopters, weapons and technologies
DEFENCETODAY managing editor
business development creative
Nigel Pittaway Peter Layton Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe David Eshel
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is in service with the US Navy. Australia is expected to accept its first MH-60R later this year. (US Navy)
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DefenceTODAY . vol 10 no 4 . september 2013 published by Strike Publications Pty Ltd PO Box 124 Ipswich 4305 Queensland Australia
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2 AUSTRALIA’S NAVY – ON THE MOVE New ships, helicopters, weapons and technologies in RAN service
ABN 41 010 922 335 Print Post 100004497 ISSN 1447-0446
FROM THE EDITOR IN THIS special Maritime Power edition, which is to be distributed at this year’s Sea Power Conference and the coincident Pacific Maritime Conference in Sydney this October, we examine the significant changes to maritime equipments and technologies that are affecting Australian maritime power now and in the future. Peter Layton examines the strategic and Defence capability implications of the latest iteration of the Defence White Paper, particularly from a maritime power viewpoint. He also reports on the Navy changing shape, as new investments produce new surface ships and aircraft, and as it moves from being a surface warfare sea control navy to become a power projection navy. We also have an exclusive interview with the Chief of Navy, Admiral Ray Griggs, on the importance of an Australian naval presence in the Indian Ocean, with its major base at HMAS Stirling – and on the evolution of the Two-Ocean Navy. The two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships are a major acquisition for the Navy. Nigel Pittaway reports on the first ship ready for sea trials, and how the Exercise Talisman Saber series will greatly assist the Navy working up the LHDs to fully operational status. Nigel also reports on how the SEA 1448 project is enhancing the RAN’s ANZAC ship capability, and how Regional Maritime ISR is becoming increasingly important to neigbouring countries. He also previews the Navy’s newest helicopter, the MH-60R ‘Romeo’, ready to be introduced into service during 2014. With unmanned platforms becoming commonplace, especially UAVs, it’s time for unmanned maritime vessels to have an increasing presence. David Eshel looks at the human dimension of command and control of USVs: the issues of operating an attack vessel remotely, and not being onboard the vessel. I hope delegates to both conferences enjoy this special maritime power edition of DefenceToday.
6 AMPHIBIOUS INTEROPERABILITY – EXERCISE TALISMAN SABER Developing Australia’s amphibious capabilities, pre-LHD 10 MQ-4C ‘TRITON’ SHAPES UP FOR AIR7000 Implications of US Navy forming first MQ-4 operational squadron 14 REPLACING THE NAVY’S ‘ARMIDALE’ PATROL BOATS Australia’s need for a larger multi-role patrol vessel 16 DEFENCE WHITE PAPER 2013 – REVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION Effects on combat capability of latest governmental doctrine on Defence 20 ADF PILOT TRAINING IN TAMWORTH – BEYOND AIR 5428 Major changes to ADF pilot training foreshadowed 23 BOEING DEFENCE AUSTRALIA – FUTURE DIRECTIONS Interview with Kim Gillis, Managing Director BDA 24 AMPHIBIOUS WARFARE SHIP READY FOR SEA TRIALS Sea trials for ‘Canberra’ class LHD underway 26 MH-60R ‘ROMEO’ EARLY CURTAIN CALL Navy’s new helicopter ready to enter service in 2014 29 REGIONAL MARITIME INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE & RECONNAISSANCE Increased commitment to ISR by neighbouring countries 32 SEA 1448 – ENHANCING ANZAC SHIP CAPABILITY Significant preparedness upgrade to the Navy’s frigates 34 HUMAN DIMENSION OF UNMANNED SURFACE VESSELS Issues of situational awareness and command of USVs
LAST WORD 36 INDIAN OCEAN AND THE EVOLUTION OF THE TWO-OCEAN NAVY Interview with Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs
John Armstrong Managing Editor
AUSTRALIAN airpower. FEATURE REPORT
Australia’s Navy: On the move
Two US Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters in formation. (US Navy)
AUSTRALIA’S Navy is changing shape as the big investments of the previous decade produce new surface ships and aircraft. The Navy is moving from being a surface warfare sea control navy to become a power projection navy. In coming years the Navy will bring into service two Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious ships, three new Air Warfare Destroyers, a fleet of new helicopters, upgraded frigates and potentially some new at-sea supply ships. By the end of this decade the current surface Navy will have been transformed, at least in a new equipment sense.
The Navy has significant concerns with vessel maintenance, the domestic shipbuilding program and difficulties attracting and retaining personnel. Moreover, bases developed for the old sea control Navy may not be the most suitable for the new power projection Navy. There are also emerging concepts of a ‘national fleet’ that suggest Navy shed some secondary tasks and concentrate on its core business: warfighting.
New Tasks, New Seas The 2013 Defence White Paper assigns the Navy a range of tasks including countering hostile naval fleets, striking at the forward operating bases of any adversary, projecting power by deploying joint task forces in the Indo-Pacific region, and supporting the operations of regional partners. This is an offensive naval strategy that aims to undertake operations against an adversary’s bases and forces as far from Australia as possible. The Navy and the Army are seen as working particularly closely together to secure offshore territories and to deny any adversary easy access to staging bases from which Australia could be threatened. The new White Paper sees an important role for the sustained projection of power by the new joint amphibious task forces.
The White Paper signals a further change in the region, now seen as most important for future Australian Naval operations. The Navy has been on continuous operations in the Gulf region since the early 1990s and has steadily built up a high level of expertise in operating across the Northwest Indian Ocean. The return of the ANZAC frigate HMAS Toowoomba in June this year marked the fifty-fourth rotation of a RAN ship to the Middle East Area of Operations since the commencement of the first Gulf War in 1990 but times are changing. The future intent is that the focus will shift to the Indo-Pacific, which is not open ocean but rather includes archipelagic waters, innumerable large and small islands, and closed seas dominated by their surrounding lands. The geography of these congested seas has shaped the navies of the regional nations. These local fleets are often murky brown-water littoral navies and shallow greenwater coastal defence navies rather than the deep blue-water open ocean navies that Western navies traditionally aspire to be. The RAN is steadily becoming more deeply involved across this wide arc of the Indo-Pacific. The Navy has dispatched guided missile frigates to Northeast Asia to be embedded with US aircraft carrier strike groups operating out of Japan, is conducting
occasional small exercises with the Chinese Navy, has formed much closer links with the Japanese navy and will undertake its first joint naval exercise with India in 2015. This activity is in addition to the long-running Darwin-based Kakadu series in which last year some 15 warships from Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand participated. The Navy is also often involved with the Malaysian and Singaporean navies in the Five Power Defence Arrangement Bersama series of exercises.
New Ships, New Missions The core of the new Navy is the two new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships, at almost 28,000 times the largest vessels ever operated by the RAN. The ships are a development of the Spanish Navy’s LHD, the Juan Carlos 1 Buque de Proyección Estratégica (Strategic Projection Vessel) commissioned in 2010 and built in the Navantia shipyard in Ferrol, Galicia. For the Canberra class ships, Navantia is responsible for the construction from the keel to the flight deck with BAE Systems Australia undertaking the fabrication of the superstructure and the ship fit out. Work on the first ship, HMAS Canberra, started in Ferrol in late 2008 with the hull towed to Australia in October 2012 for fitting out at Melbourne’s Williamstown dockyard. Work on the second vessel, HMAS Adelaide, started in early 2010 and will follow a similar path. HMAS Canberra is due for commissioning in January 2014 with HMAS Adelaide planned to commission the following year in June 2015. The Navy will operate the ships with their embarked landing force provided by the Australian Army’s 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, along with a cross section of combat and enabling capabilities such as snipers, intelligence and logistic specialists. The Army will also supply the helicopter force of between 6-16 MRH-90 helicopters to provide the essential ship-to-shore mobility. While potentially able to contribute to many roles, the new joint amphibious capability will initially focus on security, stabilisation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks. The two LHDs will allow the ADF to develop a modern amphibious capability based around an Amphibious Ready Element (ARE) but enabling growth to an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) if required at some future time. An ARE would normally comprise a single ship with an Army landing force based upon a Combat Team, with an associated headquarters element. The ARE’s main function will be to conduct humanitarian assistance or non-combatant evacuation operations at short notice. The Townsville-based ARE landing force is currently undergoing a Pre-Deployment Training
An MRH-90 helicopter comes in to land aboard an Australian Navy ship. (Defence)
Program involving HMAS Choules and will be ready to embark on HMAS Canberra around December 2014. The much larger ARG would involve the two LHDs and HMAS Choules in combination embarking a landing force based upon an Army Battle Group capable of an amphibious landing and assault. The Battle Group may be comprised of infantry, armour (including M-1 Abram tanks), artillery, engineers, reconnaissance and mobility helicopters and other vehicles. HMAS Choules, the 16,000 tonne ex-Royal Navy Landing Ship Dock entered service in late 2011. These three large ships will be complemented by 12 110-tonne LCM-1E fast landing craft designed by Navantia and six new Landing Craft Heavy that will replace the Balikpapan Class LCHs currently leaving service. The ADV Ocean Shield, ex-Skandi Bergen, a civilian oil offshore support vessel, was hurriedly acquired in 2012 when it became apparent that the Navy’s amphibious capabilities were unexpectedly rapidly collapsing. In 2016 when both LHDs are in service, the Ocean Shield will be transferred to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. This 6500 tonne ship is unusual in being able to operate in sub-Antarctic weather conditions. The two ex-USN amphibious landing ships HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla that were decommissioned in 2012 have recently been sold to Southern Recycling LLC in the United States for scrapping, while the elderly Newcastle-built landing ship HMAS Tobruk is also likely to be decommissioned in the next few years. Protecting the core of the Australian Navy will be three new Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD), large
highly capable 7,000 tonne warships optimised for long-range area air defence of task groups. These new ‘Hobart’ Class ships are based on the Spanish Navy’s Álvaro de Bazán F100 class, all five of which were built by Navantia at Ferrol. The Hobart Class differ from the Spanish F100 ships in numerous ways including having more powerful diesel engines, bow thrusters, better anti-submarine warfare capabilities including torpedo defence decoys and the MU90 torpedo, a horizon search radar for improved anti-ship missile defence and the Australian-developed Nulka antiship missile decoy system. For its primary air defence role the ship is fitted with the very advanced Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1 and the AN/SPY-1D (V) Phased Array Radar. The ships will each have 48 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells; a single cell can be armed with either a single Standard Missile 2, or four Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles giving a most impressive air defence capability. In addition to Harpoon anti-ship missiles, each ship will have a Mark 45 5” naval gun, two Typhoon weapon systems and a Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CWIS). The AWDs will also carry a single MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopter for surveillance and antisurface tasks. The three AWDs will be assembled at ASC’s facility in Osborne, South Australia from 31 pre-fabricated modules or ‘blocks’ built by ASC, BAE Systems Australia, the Forgacs Group and after some problems by Navantia. The assembly of the first ship, HMAS Hobart, is steadily progressing with the final keel block lifted into place on 2 July this year. This particular block, the 18th, houses flotation and stabilisation equipment and in being consolidated
HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156), the seventh ANZAC class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy. (Defence)
Australia’s first ‘Canberra’ class LHD alongside the BAE Systems Australia dock in Williamstown, Victoria.
An LCH approaches HMAS Choules. (Defence)
AUSTRALIAN airpower. FEATURE REPORT into the existing ship blocks completes the keel. In the AWD design, the keel is the main structural element and contains part of the VLS, the diesel and gas turbine main engine rooms, auxiliary engine rooms, ballast tanks, propeller shafts and sonar equipment. Overall block production and fit out is well advanced, including the installation of the first accommodation modules, diesel generators and water coolers for the combat systems. The final fabricated blocks for HMAS Hobart were delivered in June 2013 following a week long journey by sea from Newcastle. The blocks will now be progressively added together on the hardstand at the Common User Facility within the state-government’s Techport Australia facility adjacent to the ASC Shipyard. All three AWDs will be assembled and then launched from this facility. The first ship, HMAS Hobart will enter service in March 2016 (two years later than originally anticipated), HMAS Brisbane is now due to commission in September 2017 with HMAS Sydney operational in March 2019. These ships will then replace the four remaining Adelaide class FFGs still in service, which will be retired. The newer fleet of eight ANZAC class frigates though will soldier on and not begin being replaced until beyond 2024. The ANZACs have undergone successive modernizations with current programs aiming to dramatically improve their air defence capabilities. The ships when originally delivered were derided as ‘being fitted for but not with’ however after years of patrolling in the Gulf this epithet is no longer true. Over the past decade, the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) has been introduced to replace the old Sea Sparrow anti-air missiles, Harpoon Block II missiles in two quad-tube canister launchers have been fitted, two M2HB .50 calibre machine guns in Mini Typhoon mounts and two TopLite EO gun directors have been installed, and the European MU90 Impact torpedo has replaced the American Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedoes. Other projects have added the Petrel Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar system and the Link 16 datalink to allow exchange of information with other ships and aircraft, especially the RAAF’s new Wedgetail AEW&C. In the current SEA 1448 Phase 2 Anti-Ship Missile Defence project various sensors and weapon systems are being upgraded. The advanced CEAFAR active phased array radar developed by CEA in Canberra is being installed together with the company’s CEAMOUNT missile midcourse guidance and terminal illumination radar for the
ESSM. In addition, a Sagem VAMPIR infrared search and track system is being fitted and improvements made to the command and control systems. The first ship to be completed, HMAS Perth, is undergoing final trials and unit level training with the last of the eight ships to be upgraded, HMAS Toowoomba, expected to be accepted into service in mid-2017. The ships will by then also embark the new MH-60R helicopters. The Navy is receiving 24 new MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters to operate from the ANZAC Class frigates and the Hobart Class AWDs. The new helicopters will replace Australia’s current fleet of 16 S 70B-2 Seahawks and allow eight MH-60Rs to be embarked at sea at any one time with the remainder shore-based at NAS Nowra. The MH-60R will give the RAN an anti-surface capability with Hellfire air-to-surface missile and an anti-submarine capability with the Mark 54 torpedo. The helicopter acquisition project has been accelerated with the first flight in late June this year at Sikorsky’s Production Facility in Connecticut, only two years after contract signature, and some six months ahead of the original schedule approved in 2011. This first helicopter will soon be transferred to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego, New York, where it will be fitted with mission systems and sensors. A further three RAN MH-60Rs are in various stages of assembly with the first two planned to be handed over to the RAN in December this year. Aircrew and maintainers from 725 Squadron are currently training with the USN at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida while they await the arrival of the RAN’s own aircraft in 2014. The Navy has also recently replaced its older Sea King utility helicopters with six MRH-90 Taipans. The new helicopters were formally commissioned into service in July this year with No. 808 Squadron at NAS Nowra and will initially operate from the Navy’s tankers and HMAS Choules. The ability to project power depends significantly on the ability to refuel and resupply ships at sea. The new White Paper has announced that the current capability provided by the aging supply ship HMAS Success and the relatively new fleet oiler HMAS Sirius will be replaced at “the first possible opportunity.” A range of options including building locally or overseas, or the leasing of an existing vessel is being investigated. As part of this evaluation process the Navy has ‘hired’ the Spanish Armada Ship, SPS Cantabria from mid February until November 2013, while
HMAS Success is in refit. The Cantabria entered service in 2009 and has many ship systems similar to those being fitted to the RAN’s new LHDs and the AWDs.
Old Problems The full capabilities of the major investments made to build the new Navy will only be realised if some problems that plagued the old Navy can be overcome. Over the past decade problems with maintaining the Navy’ ships became apparent, especially in the technically advanced submarine fleet but also in the amphibious ships – and it seemed Navy itself was not aware of the growing problems. After several in-depth reviews most of the problems were assessed as internally generated rather than caused by underfunding or external factors. Warships are complex vessels with complicated systems requiring expert and skilled maintenance. The Navy support base is now working hard to develop the necessary deep expertise and regain lost deeper-level maintenance skills. This will be a protracted process but essential given that the new LHDs and AWDs will be considerably more advanced than their predecessors. This re-building process may be eased by the development over two decades of a significant ship building industry in Australia. There is a sizeable skilled workforce on which to call and, with mining related construction nearing completion, more readily available. Ship building in Australia though is a mixed blessing. Meeting schedules is problematic as the two-year delay in the early stages of the AWD construction revealed. While earlier a matter of some debate, it now seems that there is a premium paid to build ships in Australia compared with buying from offshore yards. Shipyards gain expertise when building several of the same class of ship and costs can be steadily reduced. Australian shipyards, in building relatively small numbers of ships, rarely achieve an economic rate of production. The big exception is the ANZAC class frigates; in retrospect both a highly successful shipbuilding program and a most useful class of ship. In thinking about the ANZAC replacement though, the RAN is talking of big ships more than twice their size and overall numbers will accordingly be lower: at the moment six but given cost growth more likely four. The numbers of new ships and the Navy’s future aspirations point to another dilemma. Where will these warships’ crews come from? Navy is acquiring ships that need more people and yet for at least two decades the Navy has struggled to attract and retain sailors and officers. The planed 12 new submarines will not help with this dire situation. left: Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield sold to the RAN in 2012. below: HMAS Perth undergoing acceptance sea trials following upgrades under project SEA 1448. (Defence)
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CGI of Australia’s new Air Warfare Destroyer.
Basing appears another difficult area. The Navy’s future surface fleet core is its big new amphibious ships, but to be operational they will rely on Army providing the essential landing force and ship-toshore helicopters. For historical reasons, and to utilise an existing maintenance facility, the Navy is reticent to homeport these ships anywhere else but increasingly crowded Sydney. However, the Army landing force and essential helicopters will be in Townsville, with its headquarters in Brisbane, making ongoing training and the development of effective doctrine and tactics difficult. Moreover, the US Marines who may be able to help with the development of an effective Australian amphibious force are in Darwin, obviously a long way from Sydney. The plan to homeport the LHDs in Sydney remote from half the ships’ combat crew and the necessary helicopters seems unlikely to ensure that the ADF gets the most effective amphibious force in the most efficient manner. This is not an easy matter but it needs to be addressed. Lastly, some are thinking about a ‘national fleet’ as other government departments like Customs build up their own maritime capabilities. It seems that Navy does not have to do everything and could instead focus on its key reason for being – warfighting – letting others take on policing and constabulary functions. Government’s maritime responsibilities could, as James Goldrick writes, “…be considered as a whole and properly divided and shared….” The new White Paper talks about replacing the Armidale patrol boats so well-used in North West Australia for border security missions. This may be a good time to transfer these current naval functions to another Department or perhaps to a coastguard. There is no inherent reason that Navy should forever undertake such policing roles, with the standing up of Border Protection Command a proven multi-agency civilian command and control organisation. A divestment of minor non-warfighting tasks would allow Navy to concentrate on its core missions and perhaps help address some of its well-known problems such as manning. At the end of the day is policing immigration laws where Navy wants to be? The Royal Australian Navy is confidently on the move bringing a whole new range of advanced capabilities into service. There are some important problems to overcome but none of a scale that the Navy has not managed in earlier times. Navies are in some respects like big ships that while slow to turn have great inertia once started. This may sum up the RAN as it enters a remarkable period of renewal and expansion.
Amphibious interoperability - Exercise Talisman Saber Nigel Pittaway
Naval gunfire from HMAS Perth during Exercise Talisman Saber. (Defence)
US Navy replenishment ship USNS Charles Drew conducts a replenishment at sea to refuel the Anzac Class frigate HMAS Perth. (Defence)
ESSENTIAL to Australia’s preparation for the Navy’s two new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships is participation in maritime exercises such as the recent Talisman Saber, a major international exercise with a strong focus on maritime operations, and in particular amphibious operations. With the LHDs this will be a new role for the RAN, once the ships are delivered and worked up to operational status. So, any close involvement with US naval forces in such exercises is a huge advantage to the RAN. Held every two years and centred upon the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in central Queensland, the exercise traditionally provides a realistic scenario for certification of the US Marine Corps’ 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Talisman Saber 2013 was even more significant from an amphibious perspective, as it was an important step in the development of an Australian amphibious capability which is due to achieve Final Operating Capability in 2017.
Although a lot of hard work has already occurred to prepare the Army and Navy, TS13 can arguably be regarded as the ‘discovery’ phase of the amphibious capability, which will be delivered by the two ‘Canberra’-class LHD ships now under construction. By 2015, Navy will have one LHD in service and planning is underway for the amphibious ‘development’ phase. By Talisman Saber 2017 the Navy will have both ships ready to certify the capability in the ‘verification’ phase. This year’s exercise is more than just an amphibious exercise, however, with more than 28,000 personnel taking part along with 15 US Navy ships, 11 RAN vessels and ground forces from the Australian Army, US Army and US Marine Corps. In the skies above the SWBTA, RAAF and USN Super Hornet strike jets battled a fictitious enemy while Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters provided close air support for troops.
Towards an amphibious capability When Talisman Saber is conducted in 2015 it will be a major step in the development of an indigenous amphibious capability and the first LHD, HMAS Canberra, will play a significant role in the exercise as doctrine, processes and procedures are tested on the road to Final Operating Capability two years later. “The Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability is nascent and relatively new for us,” said Deputy Exercise Commander BRIG Coghlan aboard the USS Blue Ridge. “We’re going from a very modest capability to a world-class capability, certainly by regional standards, and that’s going to take us some years.
“There are a number of steps along the way and TS13 is an important step to make sure that we benchmark where we are. So in two years’ time, for the next Talisman Saber, we will have a better amphibious capability on the road to final amphibious capability in 2017.” HMAS Choules and the landing ship HMAS Tobruk played an important part in the ADFs amphibious serials but the former had to chop away early to support a joint task force assisting immigration authorities with the expansion of facilities on Manus Island. However the major objectives had already been met and the amphibious element was judged a success. “One of the major features is the development of an Amphibious Readiness Element (ARE), which is Step One in a process that takes us through to 2017 and the establishment of Australia’s amphibious capability,” explained BRIG Brown. “The ARE is about two Company’s worth of 2 RAR with its headquarters elements. In the interim we’ve used HMAS Choules to do that, but there was also a lot of interaction with the US amphibious assault operations as well, particularly in terms of integration of the air aspects into the landings. The Commanding Officer of 2 RAR appreciates the integrated nature of amphibious operations and particularly the need to integrate Air into the planning.” Certification of the ARE during the exercise followed Block 1 and Block 2 training with HMAS Choules at Cowley Beach near Townsville during ‘Exercise Sea Lion’ in June. Sea Lion involved 2RAR as well as Black Hawk Helicopters from B Squadron/5 Aviation Regiment and landing craft from Ross Island Barracks.
“We are at the crawl before we walk stage here in many ways but it was a really good training exercise for 2RAR, getting to work really closely with the crew and the landing craft etcetera from Choules,” said BRIG Brown. “It’s a small step initially but important in terms of how the permanent staff aboard the LHDs will work, in conjunction with 2RAR and their development in that role.”
Goals and outcomes The major outcome for TS13 was the improvement of Australian/US combat training, readiness and interoperability through the formation of a Combined Task Force, designated CTF660, and to exercise the CTF in a complex, high end, mid-intensity warfighting scenario. It also aimed to integrate Commander 7th Fleet operational capability into the Field Training Exercise (FTE) and Live Fire Exercise (LFE) phases and a US-led UN Security Council-organised CTF. Further objectives were the conduct of a combined Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) Command Post Exercise (CPX) and to improve bilateral Combined Arms interoperability and military to military relations. “On the US amphibious side, they made the point that they have to reset after over ten years of fighting counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; they are re-focussing back on their core capabilities as well as their re-pivot back to the Pacific, so it was in that context,” explained BRIG Brown. “There’s a level of certification of a number of those units: The 7th Fleet gets its formal certification and so do elements of the US Army’s 1st Corps, particularly the parachute insertion but also its headquarters. And from an Australian point of view, Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) was being certified as a standing ADF Joint Task Force.” Interagency operation was co-ordinated by the Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) and included the aforementioned AFP and FBI, as well as USAID and AusAID, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the US State Department. Combat operations of the exercise were divided into four major phases, the Force Integration
Overview The overarching objective of TS13 was to train the US Navy’s 7th Fleet and the Australian Deployable Joint Headquarters personnel in a Combined Task Force configuration. The exercise Commander was Vice Admiral Scott Swift, the then Commander of the US 7th Fleet and his Deputy was Australian Army Brigadier David Coghlan. Senior ADF Officer and Chief of Staff was Air Commodore Tim Innes. Aboard USS Blue Ridge shortly before the exercise got underway Brigadier Coghlan said, “From an ADF perspective we work closely with the Americans and also with each other; the Navy, Air Force and Army come together as a whole. “The great benefit of integrating in a combined situation with the US is that we can complement their capabilities, and because we think in a similar way we can integrate in a seamless manner to maximise the effect from all components.” The exercise scenario was based upon a number of fictitious countries, one of which was represented by the SWBTA, to the north of Australia. Australia’s traditional training adversary Kamaria (SWBTA) becomes increasingly belligerent toward its neighbours and a steady breakdown in relations results in its occupation by a United Nations-mandated force led by Australia and the United States, to restore peace. Beginning with negotiations by real diplomats, TS13 exercised several civilian agencies as well as the military combat phase, including the Australian Federal Police, FBI and even aid agencies such as AusAID. “It’s engineered to achieve the maximum amount of objectives of a range of civilian agencies and military forces and starts with a peace enforcement-type exercise, moving to hand off to a UN Chapter VII-type mission and that brings in all of the humanitarian, refugee, displaced persons and a lot of other agency play,” said TS13 spokesman Brigadier Bob Brown. “It graduates from high-end warfighting and moves down through those different stages. To make it as realistic as possible we bring in actual political play, so we have real diplomats involved, as they would be in real attempts to seek diplomatic outcomes, and play the decision making at the top, before moving down through a breakdown and then the need to insert large-scale forces. So a large-scale joint force entry operation was a major feature once we moved into the ground element.” The large scale force insertion took the form of twin amphibious landings and a battalion-sized air drop into the SWBTA, the latter performed by the US Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) from the 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson near Anchorage. The paratroopers jumped from a five-ship USAF C-17 formation after a non-stop flight from Alaska. The main amphibious operation was performed in the south of the training area by the 31st MEU and an Amphibious Ready Group centred upon the Wasp-class LHD, USS Bonhomme Richard. A smaller operation was carried out in the north by 2 RAR from HMAS Choules. For the land phase of the exercise, the focus was on Brigade-level formation manoeuvres with the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade, the US Army 4th/25th and the USMC 31st MEU. The Opposing Force (OPFOR) was based upon the Australian 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment supplemented by elements from 6th Brigade, but also included US forces. United States Wasp-Class Amphibious Assault Ship, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), exercises off the Queensland coast. (US Navy)
above: An Australian Army Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle disembarks a landing craft onto Sabina Point in Shoalwater Bay. (Defence) right: Navy Seahawk Helicopter ‘Tiger 80’ lifts a load of stores from HMAS Perth. (Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet air refuels from a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport. right: Super Hornet pilot’s view connecting with the KC-30A’s refuelling hose. (Defence)
Training (FIT), Field Training Exercise and Live Fire Exercise phases followed on from one another as a logical progression; however the Command Post Exercise was held concurrently with the FTE phase. This was a departure from other Talisman Saber exercises, which had run the CPX separately. “The CPX brings in all the Live, Virtual and Constructive play, largely run out of the EXCOM in Hawaii, which enables the very much higher-up Joint Task Force objectives to be met,” said BRIG Brown. “The overlay of the CPX requires staff to be pretty adroit at manoeuvring between live and virtual forces in terms of the scenario, but it worked well. It’s really the only way you can test the HQ staff and it was a real challenge.” TS15 AND BEYOND The ADF will undergo significant doctrinal change between now and the next Talisman Saber exercise in the middle of 2015, as it prepares for the capability promised by the two LHDs. One of the challenges will be how to recycle the expertise being built up within 2 RAR in order
to maximise benefit without draining the ADF of resources. Army has enlisted the help of the United States Marine Corps and the United Kingdom’s Royal Marines in this regard, as it develops the required doctrine. “We’ll be taking as much as we can from both services and then establishing the appropriate scenarios on Talisman Saber 2015, so we can really work out exactly how we want to operate with one LHD initially, and eventually with two,” said BRIG Brown. “The operating specifics of exactly how long we’ll have one LHD on line are still being worked out, but it is obvious that will be a focus.” There is a lot of work to be done between now and 2015 and much of it can only be done once HMAS Canberra comes on-line early in 2014. As well as the development of doctrine there are the physical tasks of certifying each helicopter, vehicle or landing craft to operate in or on the ship and the training of personnel once aboard. The present aim is to use TS15 to certify the
Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) and Talisman Saber 2017 will be used to verify Final Operating Capability with both LHDs taking part in the amphibious serials. “There are standard doctrinal changes which any defence force must meet if they want to appropriately employ those capabilities and both Army and Navy realise that this is a gamechanger,” BRIG Brown noted. “It’s not the old days, when we just loaded some soldiers on HMAS Tobruk, this is actually a fullyintegrated and incredible capability. “We can’t underestimate the value we get out of these exercises from an Australian point of view. We just don’t have the opportunity to operate at that level without the US involvement.” The presence of the LHD and the expanded US Marine Corps presence in the Northern Territory by 2015 will mean Talisman Saber 15 will most likely be even larger than this year’s exercise.
left: USS George Washington (CVN 73) with a support ship. (US Navy) above: Seaman Combat Systems Operator Daniel Loughland monitors a multi-function console onboard Anzac Class frigate HMAS Perth. (Defence)
A PROUD HISTORY. A BRIGHT FUTURE.
BAE Systems congratulates the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy as the RAN commemorates the centenary of its first entry into Sydney Harbour. Weâ€™re proud to support the RAN as well. Since 1924 our Williamstown shipyard has been at the heart of Australian naval shipbuilding, constructing and supporting over 30 warships. See how weâ€™re helping to build, train and sustain the navy of the future at the Pacific 2013 exhibition. www.baesystems.com/australia
MQ-4C Triton shapes up for AIR7000 Nigel Pittaway
This capability has never been needed more as we rebalance towards the Pacific; BAMS (Triton) will provide an asymmetric advantage to the US Navy. Long range persistent surveillance transforms the nature of warfare at sea. ... Admiral Mark Ferguson Vice-Chief of US Naval Operations.
THE United States Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programme received a major boost in May, with the maiden flight of Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton high altitude unmanned aircraft. The US Navy is now looking towards forming its first operational squadron in late 2014. Triton is the vehicle for the unmanned portion of the BAMS construct, which along with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon manned aircraft, aims to fulfil the US Navy’s maritime surveillance requirements of the future.
Two MQ-4C on the flight line. (Northrop Grumman)
First flight of the MQ-4C ‘Triton’ under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Program. (Northrop Grumman)
Australia has its own maritime surveillance programme in the form of Project AIR 7000, which will also acquire a manned/unmanned solution broadly paralleling BAMS. The P-8A will fill the manned requirement, and although no announcement has been made it would seem likely that Australia will follow the US Navy lead with Triton. Shortly before the MQ-4C’s first flight, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly jointly announced that Australia would seek access to the BAMS project via a Foreign Military Sales case, to inform the unmanned portion of AIR 7000, Phase 1B. The agreement signed on August 1st is the strongest indication yet that Triton could wear RAAF markings. However, Triton is not as mature as Poseidon yet, which has just achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC), and any US Navy decision on Australia’s involvement beyond the FMS planning case is still some way in the future.
AIR 7000 has previously specified an 8:7 mix in favour of manned to unmanned platforms but these numbers are currently under review. The AIR 7000 Project Office is closely monitoring the maturation of Triton ahead of any firm decision. With the change of government there are no certainties to either phase of AIR 7000, but the case for a US Navy-style BAMS mix of some form has been made very clear by the Chief of Air Force.
AIR 7000 Overview Project AIR 7000 intends to replace the RAAF’s ageing fleet of 18 Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orions which, despite being significantly upgraded over the years, are now approaching their Planned Withdrawal Date around the turn of the decade. Purchased in two batches in the 1970s and 1980s, the Orions filled the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) roles for many years. More recently, their deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations starting in 2003 to provide overland Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) for coalition forces expanded its mission set beyond that envisaged for Australian regional operations. Although withdrawn from the MEAO at the end of 2012, constant operations over almost a decade have taken their toll on the aircraft and they are now becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate. With this in mind, the priority for AIR 7000 is the acquisition of the P-8A to allow the AP-3C force to be drawn down in an orderly manner to meet the PWD. Current timings for this phase, known as Phase 2B, aims for a Year of Decision in this current financial year (with an order to follow in the early part of 2014), for an IOC of between 2017 and 2020.
The unmanned Phase 1B had previously been deferred during the first term of the Rudd Labor Government, when then Defence Minister Joel FitzGibbon announced that Australia would not proceed with the next partnership phase of the BAMS programme signed in 2008, citing delays to the Triton (then known as the RQ-4N Global Hawk) and the need to defer introduction of an unmanned platform to ‘de-risk’ transition from AP-3C to P-8A. Accordingly, Phase 1B was pushed back to ‘beyond 2019’ with service introduction anticipated to occur in 2022 or beyond. However, the 2012 Defence Capability Plan brought this timeline forward once again and Phase 1B is now scheduled for IOC in the 2019-2022 period.
FMS Technical Services Case Although Defence is keen to point out that Triton has not been selected and that it is considering all options for AIR 7000 Phase 1B, the recent signing of the FMS Technical Services case with the US Navy is an indication of how seriously it is looking at the system. The FMS arrangement will allow Australia to obtain detailed cost, capability and availability data which will assess the suitability of Triton to meet the requirements specified by AIR 7000 Phase 1B. Initial meetings will provide data to assist the Project Office to determine manpower and maintenance requirements and consider basing and operational costs. “The timing of this couldn’t be better because of where we are in flight test and early development and integration of all the systems, we can really work with our partners in Australia to come up with the best capability going forward,” explained Captain Jim Hoke of the US Navy’s Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-262). “This is especially the case when we start looking down-range at some of the other growth capabilities and then having Australia help us define those capabilities. Our goal is to continue to grow our relationship over time, to support Australia’s needs for when they will need this type of unmanned system. We are looking forward to working that partnership but right now it’s in the early stages of that information exchange.”
AIR 7000/BAMS Synergies and Differences The US Navy’s goals for BAMS are determined within a global perspective, as it has a continuing requirement to perform ISR over a large area of the world’s oceans, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned platform – the so-called unblinking eye - is arguably the most efficient means yet developed to keep tabs on vast areas of open ocean at great distances from operating bases, for many hours on end. Verification and possible prosecution are then handed off to a manned platform, in this case the P-8A, and important resources can be better tailored to meet the particular requirement. As with the US Navy, Australia has vast swathes of open ocean to patrol, surrounded as it is by the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans. A smaller scale version of BAMS is therefore appropriate for many of the local requirements. However, Australia also has littoral and overland
ISR requirements, by nature of its geography, and experience with the AP-3C deployment to the MEAO over the past ten years has shown how valuable a competent ISR platform can be. The ISR commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan has also come at a cost, with some of the high-end ASW and ASuW warfighting skills being eroded as resources were refocused to support the operational effort. Therefore, Australia has an interest in a littoral and overland unblinking eye capability which is not currently a priority of the US Navy. High among the priorities is a Moving Target Indicator (MTI) capability for the Triton’s surveillance radar and this was one of the reasons Australia linked with the BAMS programme back in 2008. Its subsequent withdrawal meant that MTI did not gain traction with PMA-262, but CAPT Hoke says there are plans to incorporate a system in the future. “We don’t have an MTI capability but I can tell you that there’s a lot of interest in getting that capability aboard,” he said. “We’ve been asked by a number of sources for that and it’s on our priority list, it’s now a matter of finding the resources and the correct time to integrate it on to the platform.” Therein lays the problem with joining a US project at a relatively late stage in its gestation, as the RAAF are now finding out when it comes to integrating a maritime strike weapon onto the US Air Force version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. CAPT Hoke cannot say when P-8A and Triton will work together in the BAMS construct in their baseline US Navy configurations, let alone with any extra equipment integrated.
and equipment cooling and navigation systems have been enhanced over the baseline Global Hawk which, together with a Wideband Ka-band Geospatial Satellite Communications system for increased oceanic coverage and maritime ISRspecific sensor suite, provides Triton with its mission capability. The maritime radar is a Northrop Grumman AN/ ZPY-3 Multi Function Active Sensor (MFAS) X-band AESA radar with 360-degree coverage and both maritime and air/ground modes. The EO-IR system is a Raytheon AN/DAS-3 (MTS-B) unit with a 360-degree field of regard, Auto-Target Tracking and providing high-resolution EO/IR imagery at multiple fields of view and multi-mode colour video. Finally the Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system is a Sierra-Nevada Corporation AN/ ZLQ-1 which also has a 360-degree field of regard. Triton is also fitted with an ITT Exelis Airborne Sense and Avoid (ABSAA) radar to provide safe separation with other air traffic. Operating in the Ku band, it is also referred to as the ‘Due Regard’ radar. Another misconception is that the Global Hawk/ Triton airframe is not very large, but as anyone who has seen Northrop Grumman’s full-size mock-up at successive Avalon airshows will attest, it is a very large platform with a wingspan larger than a commercial Boeing 737-800. Principal dimensions
MQ-4C Technical Description According to Australia’s Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, a common misconception about Triton is that it’s just another Global Hawk. “In many respects it’s a very different capability than that of a Global Hawk; it has a strengthened wing, wing anti-icing, Sense and Avoid capability, but most importantly the nature of the surveillance task means that you just can’t sit up there at 60,000 feet like you can with Global Hawk,” he said. “The types of missions we need to do means the operating profile for Triton requires it to descend below 60,000 feet for some of the work that we want it to do. It has to get up and down for the Electro-Optical Infra-Red (EO/IR) portion of the mission.” To cope with this expanded mission set the wings have been strengthened over the basic Global Hawk design to cope with the increased gust loads at lower altitudes and have a Thermo-Mechanical Expulsion De-Icing System (TMEDS). The engine air inlet is also de-iced by engine bleed air and a dual ice detector system monitors ice accrual on the airframe. The forward fuselage has been strengthened to cope with increased sensor weight and various airframe enhancements increase resistance to hail and bird-strikes, including the RADOME, which has been improved to increase both strength and aerodynamic properties. Although a weapons capability is not a current BAMS requirement, the wing structure has provision for two hard-points on each side and an armed Triton is a potential future development. The main generator has been upgraded to 30 KVA
An MQ-4C ‘Triton’ operates at high altitude. (Northrop Grumman)
US Navy P-8 ‘Poseidon’ aircraft. (US Navy)
RAAF AP-3C ‘Orion’ aircraft. (Defence)
MARITIME. power The US Navy will stand up two Triton squadrons, VPU-19 at NAS Jacksonville in Florida and VPU11 at Whidbey Island in Washington state. The squadrons will divide the globe between them to provide five ‘orbits’, each consisting of a Main Operating Base (MOB) and a Forward Operating Base (FOB) and each orbit will be assigned four aircraft – the theory being that one will be on-station, one will be transiting to the station, one from station and the fourth will be in preparation at any given time.
Triton for Australia
RAAF AP-3C ‘Orion’ dispensing flares. (Defence)
for the MQ-4C are a length of 49 ft 6 inches (15.1 m), a wingspan of 130 feet 9 inches (39.9 m) and a Maximum Take Off Weight of 32,250lbs (14.630 kg). The aircraft is powered by a single Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan, which produces 8500 pounds (37.80 kN) of thrust at sea level. According to Northrop Grumman, the Triton has a cruise speed of 330 knots, an operational ceiling of 60,000 feet and a maximum unrefueled range of more than 9550 nautical miles, or endurance in excess of 24 hours.
Flight Test Progress Before the first flight of the Systems Design & Development (SDD) MQ-4C from Palmdale California in May, design, operational concept of operations (CONOPS) and capabilities experience had been gained by the BAMS Demonstration (BAMS-D) programme using an RQ-4A Global Hawk platform. Originally conceived as a six-month demonstration, BAMS-D has been successfully used operationally for over three years and in April this year achieved the impressive total of 10,000 flight hours. By August, the first MQ-4C had flown three flights and Northrop Grumman was looking to fly a further
flight test event every two weeks or so, dictated by the need to analyse the massive amount of data collected on each flight. Software coding continues and 25 flights of the MFAS radar have been performed aboard a surrogate Gulfstream II owned by Northrop Grumman, which has demonstrated Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), limited Maritime Surface Surveillance (MSS) and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) modes. The flight envelope will now be expanded from Palmdale throughout the remainder of 2013 and Triton will make its first transcontinental flight to the US Navy test centre at Patuxent River around April next year. Operational assessment will occur in the fourth quarter of next year with ‘Milestone C’ (which initiates the production phase) in the second quarter of 2015. IOC is planned for 2017. An indication of the importance of Triton to the future US Navy can be gauged by comments made by Admiral Mark Ferguson Vice-Chief of Naval Operations in July last year when he said, “This capability has never been needed more as we rebalance towards the Pacific; BAMS (Triton) will provide an asymmetric advantage to the US Navy. Long range persistent surveillance transforms the nature of warfare at sea.”
The RAAF remains committed to acquiring an unmanned maritime surveillance capability, but indicates that the ratio of manned to unmanned vehicles is presently under review. “When you look at the relative roles, the Triton has some great advantages in terms of surveillance capability, but you still need a response platform,” AIRMSHL Brown said. “You still need a platform that can go and either drop an air-sea rescue kit or identify and strike a particular target. “The great thing about Triton is that it can stay out there for something like twenty or twenty-four hours, so numbers aren’t as critical as they are for a manned platform. So to perform those responses you actually need more platforms and if you look at the ration the US Navy has planned, I think it’s about two to one in favour of manned platforms.” The ultimate decision will be taken by the new government, so any discussion on the likely mix for Australia is pure speculation, but the CAF says ideally a 12:6 mix would be better than the currently proposed 8:7. The maturity of the Triton system will be the key factor insofar as timing is concerned. The US Navy has just gone through IOC, and development work is continuing but it’s maturing pretty rapidly. While timing for the P-8A is largely driven by the AP-3C PWD, the unmanned phase will not be acquired until somewhere in the 2020-2021 timeframe. “The problem we have, and it’s another thing that’s driving me to look at P-8A numbers, is that while the AP-3C is still doing ok I wouldn’t like to take it past its Planned Withdrawal Date at the moment,” AIRMSHL Brown said. “Ageing airframes take up more time and effort and eventually you just end up really on the bad side of the bath-tub curve.”
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Replacing the Armidale Class Patrol Boats
Insofar as choosing an Australian shipbuilder is concerned, the Federal Government has already identified that the new boats will be built in Australia, and it has come under increasing industry pressure in recent times to avoid the so-called ‘valley of death’ as current naval projects wind down mid-decade.
’ HMAS Wollongong at sea in the Northern Australian Exercise Area, off the coast of Darwin. (Defence)
AUSTRALIA’S coastline is massive, at more than 35,000 kilometres, and with a relatively small Navy the job of protecting its maritime approaches presents a daunting task for maritime and air assets. Add to this the escalation in illegal boat arrivals over the past few years and the tasking overwhelms the capabilities of the 14 Armidale class Patrol Boats; they are being worked beyond design expectations, so the case for early replacement of the Armidales is obvious. It came as little surprise therefore that the 2013 Defence White Paper foreshadowed bringing forward the replacement for the patrol boats, preferably with a proven design, and assembled in Australia.
This solution falls short of that described in the 2009 Defence White Paper, which proposed a much broader plan to replace the Armidales, along with the RAN’s mine warfare and hydrographic vessel, with a single class of multi-role offshore combatant vessels (OCV). The new common-hull design could accommodate helicopter or UAV operations, and displace up to 2000 tonnes. The OCV class would utilise a modular mission payload system, with the ability to change between roles as required. However, this latest iteration of the White Paper only commits to the multi-role vessel as a long term plan. It restricts initial acquisition to an interim patrol boat class based on an existing design that would be fast-tracked as a short-term replacement. This decision recognises the stresses being experienced by the Armidale class but it also points to the lack of funding for the more ambitious plan, which would enable the Navy to achieve a much enhanced capability across distinctly different roles with the one baseline vessel, and save capital investment costs in the longer term. This would be achieved by reducing overall build costs plus savings in through-life maintenance, logistic support and training costs. However, this is not to be. The Armidales, while fast and certainly a step up from the Fremantle Class boats they replaced, are nevertheless a fairly small and lightly armed patrol vessel suited mainly for fisheries surveillance and related duties such as unidentified boat arrivals, but not combat. With the OCV essentially on hold,
it seems the replacement vessel could only be a modest increase in size to around 600 tonnes, or even as much as 1900 tonnes with a helicopter/ UAV deck, increased armament, hull sonar and the possible option for torpedo tubes. If a multi-hull design was chosen for speed and spaciousness, then its displacement would be much less than for a monohull.
Patrol Boat requirement for Australia Australia has an ongoing requirement for a patrol boat that can interdict with other ships and boats, at times having to enforce stop-and-search operations. Obviously, this role cannot be taken over by conventional aircraft or UAVs. The Armidale class is a good design but they have been overloaded with tasking in recent times, especially on asylum seeker interception duties, with one ACPB stationed at Christmas Island permanently. The new boat would need to have a rapid transit speed, possibly as much as 35 knots and still have good speed in sea states 4 and 5. This speed requirement could lock in a catamaran or trimaran design. Ideally it would need to embark a helicopter fore or aft, be able to deploy large rigid inflatable boats and carry some armament such as a forward positioned gun - and it would need to be an existing design or a simple modification of one, to reduce development time and money. The ability to embark a helicopter or UAVs in particular would increase surveillance and response capabilities, by an approximate factor of thirty in area, without the need for additional ships to be deployed.
HMNZS Rotoiti, the first of four inshore patrol vessels, Devenport, Auckland. (NZPA)
Larger patrol boats can be divided into two classes - inshore for patrol within the EEZ and offshore for long range operations. Armidales are typically used within Australia’s EEZ, like the Royal New Zealand Navy’s four 55 metre inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) built recently by BAE Systems in New Zealand. The RNZN’s two 85 metre offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), also built recently by BAE Systems for just under $100 million each in Williamstown, Victoria, are three-quarters the length of an ANZAC frigate and have the same range, but at a fraction of the cost. They can carry a Super Seasprite maritime combat helicopter and have a lot of accommodation. These two OPVs patrol in the Antarctic oceans during summer, around NZ’s EEZ, and into the Tropics. They represent existing local designs which could easily be built again in Australia. With current budgetary constraints, it is not surprising that the Government opted for a patrol boat replacement, which costs a fraction of larger warships such as a destroyer or frigate. Patrol boats typically engage in low-combatant roles such as patrolling sea approaches, maintaining a presence in territorial waters, interdicting suspicious vessels, assisting vessels in distress, protecting offshore installations, and the like. Even though the Government has committed to an early replacement for the Armidales, time is not on the Navy’s side to get a replacement quickly, under the usual Defence two-stage acquisition process. For example, the Cape Class project took five years to progress through the Defence project process, from approval of funds in 2006 to contract signature with Western Australian
Austal’s Cape Class patrorl Boat. (Austal)
shipbuilder Austal in late 2011. With Austal at about the halfway point in production of the eight Cape class patrol boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the question before Defence therefore is what proven designs are readily available for a fast-tracked purchase. At present, Austal presents as the front runner to build the next generation patrol boat for the Navy, with its production line for the Cape Class boats up and running at its Henderson shipbuilding facility in Western Australia. With production scheduled to run through until August 2015, Austal is well placed. Of course, other companies in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia would ‘fight’ to get the work as production of the Air Warfare Destroyer and the Landing Helicopter Dock vessels starts to wind down. Other companies such as BAE Systems, Forgacs and ASC can be expected to get vigorously involved in tendering for final design and production contracts. A lot will depend on how fast Defence wants to begin production on the new boats, and whether ‘tagging’ onto the Austal production line becomes irresistible, with its potential for fast tracking and lower through life costs of a single class. There is a case certainly to take advantage of existing skill sets, experience, supply chain efficiency and production opportunities, rather than ramp up a new program from baseline. Insofar as choosing an Australian shipbuilder is concerned, the Federal Government has already identified that the new boats will be built in Australia, and it has come under increasing industry pressure in recent times to avoid the so-called ‘valley of death’ as current naval projects
wind down mid-decade. According to DMO’s own assessment, in a case study presented in its industry skills plan, the Cape Class boats represent a significant improvement in capability and comfort, and it is possible that the Navy’s requirements would be not much different from those of Customs, when they are operating on similar tasks.
Strategic Context The White Paper considers in detail the implications of the changing strategic circumstances in our region for Australia’s national security and defence, including: The ongoing strategic shift to our region, the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Rim, particularly the shift of economic weight to our region; the US re-balance to the Asia Pacific and Australia’s enhanced practical cooperation with the US pursuant to our 60-year-old Alliance relationship; the ADF’s operational drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands; Australia’s own Force Force Posture Review - the first in a quarter of a century; and the ongoing adverse effects of the Global Financial Crisis, which have continued to have a significant impact on the global economy. The White Paper addresses in detail the implications of these developments for Australia’s national security and defence settings, It outlines Australia’s strategy for maintaining a highly capable and credible ADF, our contribution to the region’s longterm security, and how Australia will seize the opportunities and manage the challenges in our strategic environment.
above: INS Saryu, the lead vessel of the indigenous Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel (NOPV) project for the Indian Navy. right: Australian ‘Armidale’ Patrol Boat HMAS Wollongong. (Defence)
Australia’s Defence White Paper: Revolution or Evolution? Peter Layton
The new approach of the 2013 White Paper is not through a Defence of Australia strategy or on fighting distant counterinsurgency wars. Instead the focus is on engagement with the nations of the Indo-Pacific region.
IN May this year a new Defence White Paper was released in Australia. A new White Paper was expected in 2014 so this early release both surprised many and led to cries that it was unnecessary and said little new. There is indeed continuity from earlier times but there is also real change. These changes to Australian defence have been overlooked in the worries over the White Paper’s timing, the budget and the forthcoming Australian Federal Government election. There are however, important developments that will carry forward into the future and shape the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for many decades to come.
US Navy X-47B UCAV during at-sea trials. (US Navy)
US Marines F-35B Joint Strike Fighters in formation. (Lockheed Martin)
The White Paper brings some revolutionary changes at the strategic level with a new stress on regional engagement and to ADF capabilities in the interrelated areas of airborne electronic attack and cyber war. There is also important evolutionary change with Army’s Plan Beersheba continuing and in the Navy with the new submarine program being clearer and its impacts more understood. But there are serious issues left for the next White Paper including: Should Australia be part of the US’s Air-Sea Battle schemes? What will happen to the Special Forces post-Afghanistan? How will the unmanned air vehicle revolution shape the Air Force? How will the ADF meet the challenge posed by the new submarine fleets emerging across the region? There is much for future White Papers to consider but they will start from the foundation this White Paper has created.
Big Strategic Changes The big strategic change is the focus on the IndoPacific region; a new term that highlights the two regions should be considered as one. Previously, Australian defence has focussed on either the Australian continent, its immediate neighbourhood or nearer parts of Southeast Asia but the 2013 White Paper has now taken a much more expansive view. This is even a sharper change coming after a decade of being mainly concerned about combat operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Where is this ‘new’ Indo-Pacific region? The Indo-Pacific is seen as an arc stretching from India in the west, across South East Asia, to China, the two Koreas and Japan in the northeast. This is a vast area with some of the world’s largest nations in terms of population, land, archipelagic spread, economic wealth and military forces. On the Australian side of the arc though the term also ties Australia into this region through its North-Western corner. The recent Australian force posture review also called for more attention to this
part of Australia as its economic importance has significantly grown in recent years. The new interest by Australia on the Indo-Pacific further ties in with the recent American pivot to Asia. The US considers that the troubles in the Middle East and Afghanistan have unhelpfully dominated its defence thinking for too long and that there should be a rebalancing towards the Pacific, where both China is rising and the centre of world economy is moving. At least at the moment however, America remains more concerned about East Asia as a geographic entity rather than focussing on the Indo-Pacific as a single, vast, inter-related system. Given this region’s size and its great diversity how can Australia influence it? What is the role for the ADF? The new approach of the 2013 White Paper is not through a Defence of Australia strategy or on fighting distant counterinsurgency wars. Instead the focus is on engagement with the nations of the Indo-Pacific region. The White Paper develops a graduated scale of ADF involvement within the general engagement approach. For much of the time, the ADF role in engagement will be through establishing and maintaining strong defence-to-defence links across the region, undertaking individual and small unit training together and participating in minor and major exercises. If natural disasters strike though, the ADF can extend this engagement to provide timely humanitarian assistance and shortnotice relief operations, as it did in 2004-2005 in Indonesia and in 2011 in Japan. Beyond this but in situations still short of interstate warfare, the White Paper sees ADF units as being available to be deployed to be part of multi-national maritime security operations alongside Indo-Pacific partners undertaking tasks such as counter-piracy operations, the protection of critical sea lanes and counter-terrorism operations. In the more difficult circumstances involving threats by hostile nations to regional stability and
security the White Paper also sees an important role for the ADF. At this highest end of the conflict scale, the ADF may be employed to conduct conventional combat operations to counter aggression or coercion against any of our partners, albeit with priority given to the Southeast Asian part of the Indo-Pacific arc. The ADF’s joint maritime capabilities are seen as a particularly useful way to make a meaningful contribution to any such combat operations. The ADF involvement may be not just for assisting Southeast Asian partners with external challenges but also as part of meeting Australia’s alliance commitments to the United States across the Indo-Pacific. The White Paper notes that “… Australia should be prepared to make substantial contributions if necessary.” Across the wide arc of the Indo-Pacific however, some nations are more important than others. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia looms large for many reasons, and in recent years Australia’s defence relationship with Indonesia has developed significantly through a multifaceted engagement program. Last year, Australian and Indonesian defence forces conducted the highest levels of training and exercising with each other since the mid-1990s. In late 2012 Australia and Indonesia signed a Defence Cooperation Arrangement to enhance defence cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation. More personnel and unit exchanges are planned and the bilateral exercise program will be expanded. Travelling further around the arc the focus is on the big regional players: Japan, China and India. The White Paper sees a burgeoning defence science and technology relationship with Japan and opportunities for industry cooperation possibly in advanced submarine programs. The bilateral exercise program with Japan will also grow in scope and sophistication with a focus on naval and air forces. In the case of China, Australia will now each year hold a bilateral ministerial-level Foreign and Strategic Dialogue to promote closer cooperation. This is in addition to the existing Defence Strategic Dialogue held annually with the People’s Liberation Army. An Australia-China Defence Engagement Action Plan has been developed which focuses on maritime security, peacekeeping cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Across at the western end of the Indo-Pacific arc, steps are underway to expand the Strategic Partnership with India under the framework of the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation. Engagement between Australia and India
Collins class submarine. (Defence)
has involved high-level visits, ship visits and professional exchanges. The focus is on building Navy-to-Navy links given the shared interest in Indian Ocean littoral maritime security. The first formal bilateral maritime exercise between Australia and India is planned for 2015.
Revolutionary Capability Changes Away from the new strategic interest in deeply engaging with the nations of the Indo-Pacific arc there is a revolution in ADF capabilities quietly underway. The White Paper announced the acquisition of 12 new-build EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft along with deepening cyber warfare interest. Separately these are interesting developments but taken together they constitute much more. The EA-18G Growler is an electronic warfare variant of the F-18F Super Hornet already in service at RAAF Amberley. The Growler gives the ADF for the first time an advanced airborne Force Level Electronic Warfare capability able to accurately identify and map hostile electronic transmissions, jam adversary radar and communication networks and hard-kill such systems through use of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). The $1.5 billion EA-18G Growler project acquires 12 aircraft, mission and support systems, training, and the ongoing support to effectively develop and operate this complex capability. The Growler should enter RAAF operational service in 2018. The AARGMs are the latest development of the High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) that fitted with GPS, multi-mode seeker and a mid-
course guidance system overcomes many of the problems with earlier hard-kill systems. The AARGMs are being acquired under a separate project with missile delivery in 2015. The Growler entered USN service in 2009 with plans to acquire 114 of the electronic attack aircraft over the next few years. In 2011 Growlers operating from Northern Italy undertook Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) missions over Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector. In this traditional kind of SEAD role the Growlers located and jammed hostile air defence radars threatening NATO aircraft. At the same time in a quite different type of war, Growlers were employed over Afghanistan as high-powered electronic surveillance platforms hunting insurgents with cell phones and countering radio-detonated roadside bombs. For the ADF, the Growler capability will be a transformational electronic warfare capability that will greatly enhance the ADF’s relative technological edge in the Indo-Pacific region. As the only operator of the Growler capability outside the United States, Australia will have an almost unique capability useful across the full spectrum of ADF tasks from operations-other-than-war to major conflicts. Australia’s EA-18G Growler aircraft will provide the ability to dominate the battle space electronically, protecting ADF and allied units and denying an adversary the full use of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum will now be a zone of active combat where an enemy’s use of it will no longer be uncontested. In the future, the moment a hostile platform or unit turns on its radar or uses a communication system, it will expose
Two US Navy MH-60R helicopters armed with ‘Hellfire’ missiles. (US Navy)
US Navy P-8 ‘Poseidon’ aircraft. (US Navy)
MARITIME. power itself to immediate suppression and lethal attack. The development of electronic combat in the electromagnetic spectrum is now being repeated in the virtual world with the emergence of cyber warfare. The seriousness of the cyber threat was affirmed in 2011 when Australia and the US confirmed the applicability of the ANZUS Treaty to cyber attacks. This further emphasised the need for capabilities that would allow the ADF to gain an advantage in cyberspace, guard the integrity of military information, and ensure the successful conduct of operations. In future, an adversary could use cyber attacks to deter, delay or prevent ADF deployments or operations. This could include the hostile targeting of information systems, command and control networks and the broader support infrastructure integral to the ADF’s war-fighting capabilities. Once deployed, ADF forces offshore will also need to operate as a networked force in a contested environment. Publically announced a few months before the 2013 White Paper, a new Australian Cyber Security Centre will be established to conduct surveillance of the cyber threat environment and coordinate responses to malicious cyber attacks. The Defence Department will play the principal role in the operation of this new Centre with most of the staff - some three-quarters - provided by the Defence Department together with most of the capability. The first head of the new Australian Cyber Security Centre will be Major General Stephen Day, formerly Deputy Director for Cyber and Information Security at the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) - recently renamed the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The Centre will combine in a single location the ASD’s current cyber security capabilities with those of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Attorney General’s Department, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission. This close integration will
mean quicker and more effective responses to cyber attacks on Australian Government networks and systems of national interest. The two worlds of the electro-magnetic (EM) spectrum and cyberspace are now rapidly converging. Over the past two decades the EM spectrum has become an integral part of cyberspace, creating a single EM-cyber environment. Computer networks that once relied on wires and cables for high-speed communication now operate with wireless EM transmitters and receivers. This proliferation of wireless networks now means that computer viruses can be inserted both through cable and wireless connections. Older electronic warfare jammers used to overload radar or communication systems with superior EM energy but modern jammers like those carried by the Growlers can now defeat these systems by preventing them from detecting targets at all or by retransmitting altered signals into them to create false targets, obscure particular areas or inject malicious computer code. Airborne electronic warfare systems can now be used to insert viruses into enemy networks - including closed military systems not otherwise accessible. Conversely, conventional jamming techniques can defeat a wireless network just as effectively as a virus can, simply by disrupting transmissions between one node and the next. Retired USMC General “Hoss” Cartwright writes that: “There is a nexus coming between electronic warfare and cyber… one knocks the door down and the other goes in and does the dirty work.” The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert considers that the “EM-cyber environment is now so fundamental to military operations … that we must start treating it as a warfighting domain on par with - or perhaps even more important than - land, sea, air, and space.” He foresees that future wars will not be won simply by using the EM spectrum and cyberspace better
than an adversary. Instead future wars will be won within the combined EM-cyber domain. The 2013 Defence White Paper has determined that the ADF will acquire the Growler’s advanced electronic attack aircraft in conjunction with developing high levels of expertise in cyber warfare. The combination of these two different technologies will over time give the ADF cuttingedge capabilities that will transform the way the ADF undertakes future combat operations. In this respect this White Paper is truly revolutionary.
Evolution Continues Other aspects of the Defence White Paper are more evolutionary. The White Paper continues the restructuring of the Australian Army under Plan Beersheba into three ‘like’ multirole combat brigades. These three balanced brigades will have similar organisations that include armour, artillery, communications, engineer, infantry and aviation elements. The big capability gain from this is that Army will in the future have a force generation and training cycle that will allow the ADF to deploy and sustain on distant operations for a protracted period a brigade sized land force. Plan Beersheba will mean the Army for the first time will be able to regularly rotate brigades through overseas areas of operations. The 2013 White Paper continues the process of transforming the Navy begun in the 2009 White Paper. This earlier paper proposed the acquisition of 12 new submarines to replace the six existing Collins Class boats. The 2013 White Paper continues this program but in reducing the Navy’s future surface combatant force accentuates the shift from being mainly a surface Navy to one that is much more a balanced surface and sub-surface Navy. Today the Navy has 12 surface combatants and six submarines; in the future it will probably have between 7 to 9 surface combatants and 12 submarines. The White Paper provides more detail about how this will happen. The 12 new submarines will be assembled in South Australia but they will be conventionally powered with nuclear boats ruled out, although, some have strongly advocated leasing USN Virginia Class SSNs. Decisions have also been taken that the new submarines will be either an evolved Collins design or a wholly new design as these two alternatives are best able to meet the ADF’s demanding operational requirements for long range and large warload. Further consideration of acquiring lower cost but shorter-range off-the-shelf options from European manufacturers has been shelved. In the near term a new Submarine Propulsion Energy Support and Integration Facility will be established in South Australia. This land-based facility will provide the capability to research, integrate, assemble and test the propulsion, energy and drive train systems in all stages of the new submarine’s design, build and through-life support. Designing and building a new submarine is a technically daunting task that will involve many years of work. In the meantime the existing Collins Class fleet will be life extended. When first built they had a planned operational life of 28 years
US Navy ‘Virginia’ class submarine, a possible replacement for Australia’s Collins class submarine. (US Navy)
that meant that the first boat should be withdrawn in 2024 and the last in 2031. Last year though, an extensive evaluation found that the Collins Class operational service could be extended some seven years, excluding a period of formal deep maintenance. The Collins Class therefore could then stay in service at least until 2031-2038. A crucial part of this planned life extension though is making the Collins Class more reliable and with much better operational availability. The fleet needs to remain operationally viable until the new submarine enters service. A major review of Collins Class sustainment, the Coles Report, found that with better maintenance procedures submarine availability could be sharply improved. Various improvements are planned including more efficient logistic support arrangements, performance based maintenance contracts with industry and properly programming planned maintenance. The 2013 White Paper further impacts the Navy’s surface fleet in a number of important ways. These are described elsewhere in this edition in more detail.
Issues Left for the Next White Paper The 2013 White Paper left several important issues undecided or even unconsidered. The next White Paper will need to address these and this may come as soon as next year depending on this year’s Federal Election. Australia has a very close alliance relationship with the US, which is moving towards adopting an operational concept called Air-Sea Battle. Under this the US would use advanced air and naval forces to counter the anti-access forces of any adversary that sought to stop the US intervening in some future conflict. The anti-access forces would aim to deny the US the ability to deploy forces into the operational theatre while the Air-Sea Battle forces would try to prevent this happening. To remain a close US ally, the ADF may need to embrace the Air-Sea Battle operational concept and make changes to its force structure albeit these should not be major as the ADF already has a strong joint maritime warfare capability. There are several political, diplomatic and military problems for Australia though in so joining Air-Sea Battle and these will need to be addressed, probably sooner rather than later. There is a similar problem with the ADF’s Special Forces. The US is placing a new emphasis on Special Forces and sees them as one of its ‘crown
US Navy EA-18G ‘Growler’ Airborne Electronic Warfare aircraft. (US Navy)
jewels’ that will be particularly important in future conflicts. The 2013 White Paper though placed much less importance on Australian Special Forces and did not integrate them into future strategies and operational concepts as the US has done. The next White Paper may need to bring the ADF’s Special Forces in from the cold and look closely at US developments in this field. The 2013 White Paper reiterated that 100 Joint Strike Fighters will be acquired but neglected the big change over the last ten years in military aviation: the rise of the armed drones, at first with simple airframes but increasingly with much more sophisticated ones. This continues with the USN in July conducting successful carrier trails using the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft. The USN now expects to have in service by the end of this decade – even before the RAAF’s new JSFs enter operational service - a wholly new stealthy unmanned air vehicle. The Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) will primarily undertake information, reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting roles but will also be able to strike targets at a range of 2,000 nautical miles. Such platforms will markedly change air combat operations and their growing importance is already clear, but so far Defence White Papers have overlooked them. Lastly, while placing great store on the ADF’s submarine force the 2013 White Paper has neglected the continuing growth in the submarine forces of regional navies. The ADF’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities have declined markedly since the end of the Cold War and so far show little sign
of being recovered. The 24 new MH-60Rs offer some potential but only eight are planned to be at sea at any one time making their contribution of only limited value. The anti-submarine warfare ships proposed to replace the ANZAC frigates are still more than a decade away and appear unlikely to be acquired in meaningful numbers. Similarly the RAAF’s 18 AP-3C Orion aircraft seem set to be replaced by only 8 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. While this small fleet may be supplemented by unmanned platforms, these unmanned platforms are optimised for surface surveillance not antisubmarine warfare. The RAAF’s P-8A Poseidon fleet will carry that burden alone and seem too few in number to be able to undertake multiple missions in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans simultaneously. The next White Paper will need to take a serious look at the ADF’s future plans for anti-submarine warfare. The 2013 Defence White Paper has brought some revolutionary changes with a new emphasis on regional engagement and major decisions to acquire sophisticated airborne electronic attack and cyber war capabilities. The evolution of the ADF though also continues with the Army’s Plan Beersheba and in the Navy’s new submarine program. Even so, this White Paper leaves several serious issues undecided and these will need considering in the next White Paper, perhaps as early as next year. This White Paper has introduced some most important changes that will shape the future ADF for many decades. It is in truth both revolutionary and evolutionary.
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ADF pilot training in Tamworth - beyond AIR 5428 Nigel Pittaway
WITH the long-awaited release in early August of a Request For Tender (RFT) for the ADF’s Pilot Training System, the question is where will the future training activities be carried out? Each bidder for the contract to provide such training under Project AIR 5428 must propose two locations: their preferred site, but the second must be a case for RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. CT-4 Air Trainers operated by BAE Systems Australia at Tamworth, NSW.
For BAE Systems Australia, the present training provider, if it wins AIR 5428, the ADF operation at Tamworth will either have to change dramatically to encompass new platforms, new courseware and changes to the present-day syllabus; or if East Sale is the Commonwealth’s preferred location, BAE will most likely need to move resources from rural New South Wales to Gippsland in eastern Victoria. Alternatively, If BAE loses AIR 5428 it will either have to scale back its Tamworth operations, chase new training contracts in the Asia-Pacific region (which may mean a return to its civil pilot training origins) or forge a deal with the winning syndicate outside the AIR 5428 partnerships.
Flight Training at Tamworth Flight training at Tamworth began in the early 1990s, with a joint venture between (then) British Aerospace and Ansett Airlines to train pilots for the airline industry. Historically, Tamworth was selected by the RAAF
Aerial view of the BAE Systems Australia complex at Tamworth.
during the Second World War for its benign weather, generally flat landscape and relatively empty skies. No 6 Elementary Flying School was established in 1940 at Tamworth as part of the Commonwealth Empire Air Training Scheme and hundreds if not thousands of airmen have trained there. With the creation of the Flying college, with live-in accommodation in the early 1990s, Government funding was obtained to provide a second, parallel, runway which today allows almost unrestricted flying training without any impact on passenger traffic. With the introduction of the Pilatus PC-9/A in the late 1980s, the RAAF decided on an all-through training scheme, eliminating No 1 Flying Training School at Point Cook, which was then responsible for basic flight training on the CT-4A Airtrainer. 1 FTS closed its doors in 1992, when RAAF and Navy pilot candidates began an all-through syllabus with 2 FTS on the PC-9 at Pearce in Western Australia. However, the Army were not convinced that an all-through system would meet their requirements and eventually signed a contract with British Aerospace for a basic training course based upon the improved CT-4B Airtrainer. As history shows, the all-through experiment was not successful and the ADF Basic Flying Training School (ADF BFTS) was established at Tamworth in 2000 to oversee the training of pilot candidates from all three Services. Today, BAE Systems Australia is the contracted training provider, which runs the Tamworth facility and provides the aircraft. The ADF BFTS is a military unit, with a Commanding Officer and Flight Commanders, which include a Chief Military Instructor. The Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs) are a mixture of military and BAE Systems personnel.
ADF training isn’t the only activity undertaken at the Tamworth operation with a range of commercial contracts supporting the screening and/or training of candidates from Brunei, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.
The Status Quo With AIR 5428 on the somewhat-distant horizon, BAE was awarded an $88.6 million dollar contract beginning in 2012 to continue with Flight Screening and Basic Flying Training activities for a further five years. To hedge against AIR 5428 running later than the then current schedule, set to begin graduating students around 2017, the Interim Basic Flying Training (IBFT) contract has six one-year extension options, which would take the current regime through to 2023 should the PTS falter. Flight Screening determines a potential candidate’s aptitude for flight training. It is a jointly run operation between the company and the ADF, and takes about 300 candidates a year through a flying syllabus based on the ‘demonstrate and repeat’ principles. Between six and eight flights are conducted on the CT-4B over a two-week period, with each candidate flying between seven and ten hours, depending upon their previous experience. To avoid saturation, one flight is scheduled per day for each student and two instructors will be used to ensure a fair assessment. All students complete the flight programme regardless of progress, following which a report is prepared for the ADF Pilot Selection Agency. Successful candidates are then offered a commission in one of the three Services and a position on a subsequent Basic Flying Training course.
Flight training at the BAE-SA facility at Tamworth.
The successful candidates progress to the BFT phase, which is common across all three Services and fly around 64 hours over the 24.5 week course. Eight courses are run every year, with a throughput of 152 candidates. RAAF and Navy students are grouped together but Army candidates populate their own courses.
A new approach The RFT under AIR 5428 will close in February 2014, with pilot training under the new system scheduled to begin three years later. A lot has to be prepared in those three years. This is particularly true of infrastructure, depending on which location is ultimately chosen. BAE already has a most suitable facility at Tamworth, complete with modern accommodation blocks, recreational, operational and maintenance facilities and a large hardstanding area â€“ but even if it were to win AIR 5428 it may still be required to move much of its operation to East Sale.
Another change proposed under AIR 5428 is the migration of Flight Screening activities from aircraft to simulator. The PTS will make extensive use of simulation and the first time a future candidate will sit in an aircraft will be when he or she begins the BFT phase of the course. From an ADF perspective there is some logic in moving the new training system to East Sale, or at least parts of it. Advanced training for RAAF/Navy candidates will still be undertaken at Pearce, albeit on a new platform, due to the synergies of having BFT co-located with Air Combat Officer Training at the School of Air Warfare and the School of Air Traffic Control. Whether this will be insisted upon, time will tell, but it leaves BAE with somewhat of a dilemma. Because it has the Tamworth operation in its portfolio, its bid will be somewhat predictable and may lack the flexibility of its competitors. On the other hand the Tamworth facility is ideally situated, for all of the same reasons that resulted in its selection as a training location during World War
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Two, and would require a comparatively modest investment to adapt it for the new system. Then of course there is the political dimension to the basing argument which may, or may not, have any influence. BAE Systems Australia is therefore actively pursuing other commercial contracts to keep its workforce occupied beyond AIR 5428 and has been in discussions with several neighbouring countries, of which (reportedly) Malaysia is but one. With a pedigree of almost 25 years as a provider of military flight training it obviously sees its strengths in this area, but it is also considering re-entering the civil training marketplace in order to retain the aforementioned critical mass. Finally, if it does win AIR 5428 and the Government decides to use Tamworth as the desired location, what will happen to the current contracts, aircraft and staff? There is a lot of midnight oil to be burned working through the various strategies before any announcement on the Pilot Training Scheme is made public.
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Boeing Defence Australia – Future Directions Interview with Kim Gillis, Managing Director, Boeing Defence Australia
KIM GILLIS has spent two years as Managing Director of Boeing Defence Australia and remains focused on the company delivering projects on time, on budget and meeting customer expectations. He is looking forward to supporting major Australian Defence Force projects such as the introduction to service of the EA-18G ‘Growler’ and bringing the ADF support that he describes as “the Best of Boeing.” BDA’s presence in Australia dates back to 1937 when North American Aviation Inc., now part of Boeing, licenced an Australian company named Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation to build a prototype training aircraft. BDA has grown to become the country’s leading defence aerospace enterprise. BDA has a team of nearly 1,300 highly skilled people located in 15 locations throughout Australia and two international sites delivering some of the largest and most complex Defencerelated programs for Australia. Key capabilities of the business includes tactical and airlift aircraft, strike fighter sustainment services, integrated logistics support, modeling and simulation capabilities and surveillance and engagement programs. Kim Gillis shared some insights into BDA’s future intentions in Australia.
DefenceToday: What are the major objectives of Boeing Defence Australia in pursuing Defence related projects in Australia? Kim Gillis: Our focus is executing on the work we have. In that regard, we’re doing well. The BDA team is performing, we’re delivering on cost and on schedule, and we’ve regained our customer’s trust. So I would say that our major objective is to continue to satisfy and exceed our customer’s expectations, deliver the products and services they need long into the future, and help ensure that Boeing is the most respected defence supplier in Australia. DT: How has the latest iteration of the Defence White Paper influenced Boeing’s strategic vision for its business in Australia? Kim Gillis: The Defence White Paper provides Boeing with great insights into the Australian security environment. Through the White Paper and direct, constructive engagement with the ADF, Boeing understands and is ready to support Australia’s defence and security requirements today and well into the future. DT: How significant is BDA’s takeover of the E-7 Wedgetail through-life support contract in terms of AII, and the prospect of providing similar TLS for other operators of the E-7? Kim Gillis: The transition of prime responsibility for Wedgetail support from Boeing in the US to BDA shows we have a strong team here that can support a critical national asset like Wedgetail, and that’s important for Australia and our customer. The Australian team will continue to work very closely with the US team; Boeing built the plane, that OEM knowledge is critical to our sustainment efforts, and we will continue bringing what we call the “Best of Boeing” forward for Wedgetail support. Boeing provides that same commitment in its support of other operators of the AEW&C aircraft: South Korea and Turkey. DT: How significant for Australia is the decision to be the launch customer internationally for the EA-18G ‘Growler’?
US Navy EA-!8G ‘Growler’, the type to be introduced into RAAF service. (US Navy)
A RAAF E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ AEW&C aircraft being airrefuelled. (Defence)
Kim Gillis: Australia is the first country to be
offered this level of Airborne Electronic Attack technology by the United States, so that is significant in terms of meeting the country’s defence requirements. Acquisition of the EA-18G by the RAAF will give it unmatched abilities in the areas of electronic awareness and attack. Boeing shares an enduring partnership with Australia that spans eight decades, and we look forward to continuing to provide the men and women of the Australian Defence Force with the platforms and systems they need to carry out their critical missions. DT: How has BDA’s (Boeing’s) business in Australia evolved in recent times to meet changing Defence priorities, and what are the future programs BDA is seeking to be the prime contractor? Kim Gillis: Boeing has a broad and thriving defence business in Australia that includes our platforms, systems and sustainment solutions. Just like with our main US customer, we aim to offer affordable, innovative solutions to the ADF. As our customer requirements evolve, we’re right there with them, and that will be the case for the foreseeable future. DT: Is BDA looking to Asia as a potential customer base for its business, and to what extent is this the region of the future for Defence related business? Kim Gillis: The Asia-Pacific region is certainly a key area for Boeing’s defence business. Boeing sees growth opportunities in the region for maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft like the P-8, attack helicopters such as Apache and AH-6, mobility rotorcraft such as CH-47 and V-22, modern fighter aircraft such as F-15 and F/A-18E/F, lifecycle sustainment services and unmanned systems including Insitu’s ScanEagle. Boeing continues to build up its presence in Australia and other key Asia-Pac countries as we see a growing need in the region for the affordable, innovative solutions that Boeing is known for around the world.
US Navy P-8A ‘Poseidon’, the likely replacement for the RAAF’s AP-3C ‘Orion’ aircraft. (US Navy)
Amphibious warfare ship ready for sea trials Nigel Pittaway
Alongside the BAE Systems Australia dock at Williamstown, Victoria, Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship is ready for sea trials.
SEA trials of the RANs first ‘Canberra’ class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship are scheduled to get underway late October following six weeks of Harbour Acceptance testing and Basin Trials alongside BAE Systems Australia’s Williamstown Dockyard. The hull of the second LHD is also nearing completion in Spain and is due to arrive in Australia aboard a heavy lifting vessel early next year. BAE Systems are also well advanced in the fabrication of the superstructure for the second vessel. At present, the two ships being delivered under Joint Project 2048 Phases 4A and 4B are still on track but the project has slipped from being comfortably ahead of schedule to having very little room for delays. From an industry viewpoint, the so-called ‘Valley of Death’ is rapidly approaching. At present, BAE Systems’ Williamstown yard in Victoria does not have any other shipbuilding work on its books after the second LHD is completed in 2015. Retaining a skilled workforce will therefore become an increasingly difficult problem as skilled workers seek employment elsewhere, possibly even outside the shipbuilding industry. This could have an impact on the timeline of the second LHD at least.
Construction Update By late August the first ship, to become HMAS Canberra after it is commissioned, was essentially complete, undergoing final wiring and cable termination to equipment and final painting and fitout of furnishing within the superstructure, prior to the commencement of Harbour Acceptance testing. The first hull arrived at Williamstown last October and BAE Systems began consolidation of the locallybuilt superstructure with the hull in December. The hull for LHD No 2, to become HMAS Adelaide, is currently in the final stages of construction at Navantia’s shipyard in Ferrol in Spain, and is due for completion in December. Coincidentally, this is the last naval shipbuilding contract this yard has on its books as well. This hull is due to be uplifted aboard a heavy-lift vessel mid-December for the two-month voyage to Williamstown. In the meantime, LHD2’s superstructure, built from seven large modules, has essentially been completed by BAE Systems Australia. “We are still on track to deliver the first of the ships in the first quarter of next year and the second in the third quarter of the year after,” explained JP2048 4A/B Project Manager, Captain Craig Bourke.
Harbour Acceptance Testing Harbour Acceptance testing tests every component on the ship individually and then within its particular system structure, before moving on to the test of multiple systems. The tests began on Ship 1 in late August and will culminate in Basin Trials in mid-October. “We have started with the electrical generation system then we proved the generator could produce electricity and that the electricity would reach the power distribution centre,” explained CAPT Bourke. Because the LHD design is heavily reliant on
electrical power, the testing of the various systems is an important initial step, as little can be done aboard ship without it being generated, regulated and distributed satisfactorily. Testing has progressed to the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) which essentially manages all the systems necessary for the ship to put to sea, including propulsion control, airconditioning and ventilation systems, fire-fighting systems, water generation and distribution and even the ship’s waste systems. IPMS testing was followed by a systematic test of the navigation systems, including the navigation radar and associated displays and the ships’ data transfer capabilities which progressed through September ahead of the Basin Trial. During the Basin Trial the vessel is operated as if it were at sea, but without leaving the wharf.
Logistics and Training The ships’ company for LHD 1 is now undergoing training at BAE’s training facility at Mascot, New South Wales. Opened in April, the training centre makes much use of simulation to train the crew in all aspects of the LHD’s operation, including weapons and navigation systems, engineering systems (complete with machinery noise in the relative spaces) and damage control. BAE-S has also built a marine evacuation trainer outside the training facility, designed to allow crews to practise emergency evacuation training procedures. The company’s Australia’s Director, Maritime, Bill Saltzer said, “The crews and personnel who are trained here will actually be on a virtual HMAS Canberra. The equipment installed in this facility has the capability to replicate any scenario, incident, or event the LHDs may encounter.” With training of the Navy’s first crew now well underway and sea trials of LHD 1 imminent, a
great deal of effort over the past year has focused on logistics and support along with the analysis of what spares will be required to operate two ships at sea by 2017. “There’s just over $90 million of spares to be distributed between the two ships,” said CAPT Bourke. “The support system and the logistics support elements analysis stages have been largely completed and we’re in the acquisition stage for those items. They will all be there and fitted out on the first ship when it’s delivered in December.” A lot of the analysis comes from Spanish Navy experience with the almost identical Juan Carlos-class vessel under a Memorandum of Understanding between the two navies. Where the Spanish ship has identical systems to the Canberra-class vessels their experience is used as the baseline, but because the RAN plans to use the ships more intensively (around double the number of days at sea), failure as a function of usage rate has to be factored in. In addition, the LHDs will have the same Combat Systems as the upgraded ANZAC class frigates (and in the future, Air Warfare Destroyers) so that experience is being used to inform planning for the larger ships. Because the platform systems of the two ships are very similar the Spanish experience also reads across to the sea trials and has been used to determine the schedule for LHD 1.
Sea Trials Subject to the successful completion of the Harbour Acceptance Testing and Basin Trials, sea trials are scheduled to begin in late October and will largely be conducted in Port Phillip Bay. Early tests are designed to prove that the ship will accelerate at the rate specified, stops within the specified distance and manoeuvre as designed. The navigation systems will be tested further to ensure that they operate within required tolerances and the displays provide the information specified. During these trials, the first of the Docking Down trials will be carried out, with the ship ballasted to flood the aft well dock in preparation for later trials with watercraft. “By the end of October we are hoping to have left the wharf and sailed around Port Phillip Bay and proven that we have proper control of the ship, the systems and radars are functioning, the information displays are providing the information we expect to see, and that we can pull up again alongside the wharf,” detailed CAPT Bourke. “We will then conduct a series of radio trials and prove the roll-on, roll-off capabilities of our vehicle ramps and that the well dock works for bringing aboard a range of military and civilian vehicles. We will also test the ventilation systems in the heavy and light vehicle garages and the hangar to prove them capable of removing the exhaust fumes.” After a period of rectification or adjustment alongside, the ship is scheduled to go to sea again in the November/December timeframe for a series of communications and combat systems trials. Signature trials will also be undertaken at this point. All being well, LHD 1 is due to sail into Sydney Harbour for the first time in December, where it will be placed in the graving dock at Garden Island to remove marine growth which has accumulated over the twelve months or so that the ship has been alongside at Williamstown. The hull will then receive a final coat of paint.
The final set of trials will include endurance testing and full speed trials. “At the end of those sea trials, all being well, I should be in a position to offer the ship to Defence,” said CAPT Bourke.
Towards Talisman Sabre 2015 The next bilateral Talisman Sabre exercise, held with US amphibious forces off Shoalwater Bay, will be held in mid-2015, and this will be an important milestone in both the development of the first ship (by then commissioned as HMAS Canberra) and the evolution of Australia’s amphibious warfare capability. In preparation for these future operations, the first Operational Analysis is due to be undertaken in October, which will gather specialists together to operate a ‘virtual’ campaign which notionally involves both LHDs. “We will go through the whole scenario and start developing both the information flows necessary and the volume of information, the speed at which it’s needed and the interaction points, so we can inform that space further,” CAPT Bourke explained. As part of the development of the LHD capability, the Rapid Prototyping, Development and Evaluation (RPDE) programme is considering what the optimal system will be to enable the Commander Joint Task Force, Commander Amphibious Task Force and Commander Landing Force to provide effective operational Command & Control by Final Operating Capability in 2017. The task will look at the best way to fuse the detailed information required by the tactical commander with the higher level information required by an operational commander. “The ship is data-rich and we need to work out how to make it information-rich; the tactical commander needs to know where all his tactical elements are and the strategic commander clearly needs to know all the operational component areas,” said CAPT Bourke. “The RPDE programme is in the process of establishing a requirement set for how that data will be processed and manipulated, to be presented in the operational domain on the LHD.”
they will have to scale back their operations in response to the lack of future naval shipbuilding projects. The Williamstown facility is facing this break in production sooner than others, with work on both the Air Warfare Destroyer modules and LHD superstructure programmes now coming to an end. This situation has already had an effect on the contraction in any ‘buffer’ in the LHD project, and the threat to on-time delivery of LHD 2 is real. The timely completion of the second LHD in the third quarter of 2015 will be an important litmus test of Australia’s shipbuilding capabilities.
CGI image of Australia’s ‘Canberra’ class LHD.
Schedule Risk and the Valley of Death Several of Australia’s shipbuilders are facing what has been called the ‘Valley of Death’ – anticipating
Australia’s first LHD under construction at BAE Systems Australia dockyard.
BAE Systems Australia dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria.
MH-60R ‘Romeo’ early curtain call Nigel Pittaway
WITH the first batch of the Royal Australian Navy’s first MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters now undergoing systems integration with Lockheed Martin in Owego, upstate New York, attention now turns to the first deliveries to the Defence Materiel Organisation in December. The first two Seahawk Romeos are due to be handed over one month earlier than specified under the contract, and the final airframe of the 24 ordered is on-track for delivery in mid2016, two years ahead of schedule. Two MH-60R Seahawks of the US Navy.
The impressively short timeline between contract signature and delivery not only reflects the urgent need for a ship-borne combat helicopter but also an example of the efficiencies of buying a mature Military off-the-Shelf (MOTS) weapons system, especially when the manufacturer already has large numbers on order by a major military force. However, there are some issues in buying everything off the shelf, particularly with regard to country-specific requirements. Australia’s Romeos will initially be identical to their US Navy counterparts, but some local modifications are required to meet Australian airworthiness and operational requirements, which have to be installed after the helicopters have entered service. The short acquisition process has paradoxically created some challenges, notably the need to accelerate training requirements and develop necessary infrastructure at HMAS Albatross, to be ready to operate the helicopters when they arrive in Australia.
Programme Genesis The Seahawk Romeos are being acquired via a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) arrangement under Project AIR 9000 Phase Eight, the Future Naval Aviation Combat System. AIR 9000 Phase Eight originally sought to replace the Navy’s existing 16 Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawks and Kaman SH-2G(A) Super Seasprites around the 2020 timeframe. The older Seahawks were to have undergone a Mid-Life Upgrade to keep them relevant until both they and the Seasprites could be replaced by a single platform, however the failure of the latter to enter service left Navy with an Antitop: Crewmen keep a lookout onboard MH-60R helicopters. Surface Warfare capability gap. centre: MH-60R firing a ‘Hellfire’ missile. To mitigate this gap, the Seahawk MLU was bottom: MH-60R deploying a dipping SONAR. subsequently cancelled and AIR 9000 Phase Eight (US Navy images) brought forward as a matter of urgency. In its current form the project was initially made public in the 2009 Defence White Paper and became a
competition between the MH-60R, offered by ‘Team Romeo’- an industry consortium of co-primes Sikorsky (air vehicle manufacture) and Lockheed Martin (mission systems integration), together with General Electric (engine manufacture), Raytheon (sensor integration) and CAE (pilot training simulators), and the NH Industries/Eurocopter NH 90 Naval Frigate Helicopter. Team Romeo (these days known as ‘Team Seahawk’ in international marketing campaigns) were declared the winner of AIR 9000/8 in June 2011 and an FMS contract covering 24 MH-60R helicopters, 60 T-700 GE 401C Engines (48 installed and 12 spares), communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment and other logistics support services was signed with the US Navy.
Antipodean Romeos On delivery, Australia’s Romeos will be current production US Navy type, the only difference being their RAN tail numbers and the kangaroo roundel. Six Australian-specific modifications need to be installed in Australia, with one airframe retained in the United States as a prototype and development test-bed for the modifications, which will be developed, prototyped, tested and certified under the US Navy airworthiness system. When complete and certified a retrofit programme will be undertaken progressively on the fleet of 23 airframes in Australia. To minimise disruption to operations, it is planned that the modifications will be carried out concurrently with the helicopter’s three-year deep maintenance cycle, due to begin in mid-2016. Some of the modifications specified by the RAN are anticipated to also be taken up by the US Navy for their fleet. These include the addition of VOR/ILS; Automatic Dependent Surveillance –Broadcast (ADS-B); Voice Recorder incorporated into the helicopter’s Crash Recorder; Off-aircraft
Acoustic Conversion System (to allow acoustic data conversion to be compatible with Australian acoustic systems); Additional message sets for the Link 16 Tactical Data Link; Variable Message Format (VMF) Tactical Data Link; and low-power beacons, to enable the helicopter’s deck recovery system to be compatible with the ASIST system on the Air Warfare Destroyers. Weapons are also US-Navy standard and will include the Raytheon Mk.54 lightweight torpedo and Lockheed Martin AGM-114N Hellfire air to surface missile. One hundred Mk.54 torpedoes were ordered in July under a US$83 million deal which includes 13 Mk.54E exercise sections and exercise fuel tanks, five recoverable exercise torpedoes, support and test equipment for maintenance facility upgrade to Mk.695 Mod.1 capability and associated equipment, parts, training and logistics support. Not all of the weapons are earmarked for Romeo however, with a number to be allocated to the Boeing P-8A Poseidon Multi-Mission Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which Defence intends to acquire under AIR 7000 Phase 2B. The Hellfire missile will confer an Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) capability and when operational will provide the RAN with its first air to surface strike capability since the Fleet Air Arm’s fixedwing fleet was disbanded in the 1980s. The AGM-114N version of Hellfire differs from the AGM-116M used by Army on the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter in that it has a Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) thermobaric
warhead, which claims to significantly increase its effectiveness against enclosed targets. The Seahawk Romeo is cleared to deploy either weapon, and other future US weapons programmes are being observed, such as the AGM-114R (a multipurpose weapon referred to by Lockheed Martin as the Hellfire Romeo) and the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM). As with other US weapons purchases of late, Australia intends to stay in step with the US Navy spiral upgrade programme and hopes to be so closely involved as to be in a position to influence these upgrades as operational experience with Romeo builds.
Romeo in Production The first Australian Romeo made its maiden flight from Sikorsky’s production facility in Stratford, Connecticut mid-year, before relocating to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego in late July for installation of the digital cockpit and integrated mission systems and sensors. Three others have been handed over to the US Navy in August, joining the first at Owego and due for completion in early 2014. As the prime contractor under the FMS regime, the US Navy accepts delivery of the Romeos destined for Australia, before finally handing them over to the DMO. The first Australian Romeo is the 168th aircraft it has produced since deliveries began in 2006 and the 401st MH-60 series helicopter (the utility-configured MH-60S shares a common cockpit with the Romeo).
The current plan is for the first two Romeos to be handed over in December, then flown south to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida for hand-over to RAN crews in January 2014. Seven helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to Jacksonville by the end of 2014.
Training in the United States The first RAN aircrews began training with the US Navy’s east-coast MH-60R training squadron HSM-40, the ‘Air Wolves’, at NAS Mayport Florida in February this year and the first course of maintainers began training with the Maintainers Training School at Jacksonville in April. There are around 80 RAN personnel undergoing training in the US. In Australia, the Navy has recommissioned 725 Squadron as its MH-60R training unit, and as aircrew complete their training at Mayport they will move 40 miles or so down the road to Jacksonville to begin flying RAN aircraft. By late in 2014, 725 Squadron will have seven helicopters and somewhere in the order of 110 people at Jacksonville. The original plan was to start bringing aircraft and crews back to Australia after they had completed three months of training with the US Navy, but pressures on training and the timely completion of required infrastructure at Nowra has meant that there will be a build up of people and helicopters at Jacksonville before the first tranche returns to Australia at the end of 2014.
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MARITIME. power “We looked at ways to minimise risk in our transition plan, where you don’t have a lot of helicopters but you are trying to generate a reasonable Rate of Effort, so we looked at leveraging off the US Navy training system,” explained Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, Head of the DMO’s Helicopter Systems Division.
Infrastructure The original plan was to build the facilities at HMAS Albatross previously occupied by the Sea Kings and the facilities of 817 Squadron, which disbanded at the end of 2011, but site surveys however indicated a larger amount of contamination remediation than planned. As a result, a green-field site is under development, which will include maintenance and training facilities. CAE is under contract to supply the simulators and the first, an Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) which is a motion-based simulator for the two front seats and a fixed-base weapons systems trainer for the rear seat. The simulator is now under construction in Florida and on-track for delivery to Australia in the third quarter of 2014. As 725 Squadron is due back in Australia at the end of 2014, or possibly early in 2015, the timing is somewhat tight. “At the end of 2014 we’ll bring those seven helicopters and 110 qualified people back to Australia in one big bang and they will move into brand new facilities, which will have just been signed off on,” explained RADM Dalton. “The risk to the in-service date has been mitigated and we’re comfortable that we’ll meet the in-service date in America in January next year. The next big milestone for us is IOC which is defined as the first flight at sea, currently scheduled for August 2015. The risks to that milestone are the facilities, and there is not a lot of float in the facilities schedule.”
Australian OT&E In operational service the Seahawk Romeos will operate off the RAN’s upgraded ‘ANZAC’ class guided missile frigate and the three ‘Hobart’ class Air Warfare Destroyers currently under construction. Before IOC can be declared, first-of-type flight trials aboard an ANZAC ship needs to occur in early 2015 – immediately after the first cadre of 725 Squadron arrives home. Although the helicopter is capable of operating from unmodified frigates, some modifications to the ships’ power supply, magazine (for the Hellfire missile) external lightning and hangar tie-down fixtures are required. These modifications are outside the ANZAC upgrade programme being progressed by Project SEA 1448 but are being managed in conjunction with it. Ship availability to accomplish the first of type trials however will need to be managed carefully to de-risk IOC. “So we will have aircraft at sea before that IOC milestone and ultimately 725 Squadron will support the first one or two embarked Flights in 2015,” said RADM Dalton. The operational Romeo unit will be 816 Squadron, which is currently the operator of the RAN’s S-70B2 Seahawk fleet and it has already begun retiring the older helicopter in preparation for the MH-60R.
SH-2G ‘Super Seasprite’ prior to being withdrawn from RAN service. (Defence)
“We will start to see 816 Squadron playing a role in supporting or parenting MH-60R Flights at sea from 2016 onwards,” RADM Dalton predicted. At Final Operating Capability, eight Flights of MH-60Rs will be embarked on the RAN’s upgraded ANZAC frigates and Hobart destroyers, and the remainder will be shore-based at HMAS Albatross to support training and operational tasking. With Romeo waiting in the wings, the RAN is set to receive a significant boost in capability. Speaking after the maiden flight of Australia’s first MH-60R in July, Commodore Vince Di Pietro, Commander of the Fleet Air Arm said, “The RAN will very shortly be flying the most capable Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface helicopter in the world and it will be a quantum increase to our current helicopter force, both in numbers and capability.”
Australian Navy SH-60 Seahawk. (Defence)
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Regional maritime ISR Nigel Pittaway
Operation Gateway is Australia’s enduring contribution to the preservation of regional security and stability in South East Asia. It helps maintain the bilateral Defence relationship between Australia and Malaysia and is part of the support to Australia’s efforts to counter people smuggling in the region.
Royal Malaysian Air Force Alenia ATR 72 used in the Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance role.
At this year’s Langkawi International Maritime and THE air-sea gap to Australia’s north exhibition (LIMA) – with Malaysia having and northwest has featured prominently Aerospace already identified a requirement for new Multi-Role in every Defence White Paper in Combat Aircraft – fighter manufacturers were out in force to display their platform solution. But the recent memory and, most recently, Sabah incursion, which occurred during the lead the Force Posture Review makes up to the show, produced a noticeable shift of focus recommendations regarding the basing towards ISR. of Australian Defence Force assets in Although the fighters were still prominent, a lot of discussion surrounded maritime security response to the geo-political forecast. and, in particular, a need for littoral surveillance. Defending and monitoring such a Although the focus was on Malaysia’s domestic massive area of coastline is a daunting requirements, neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore face similar prospect, and Australia’s neighbours also face difficult maritime geography, problems, real and potential. Not surprisingly, manufacturers of maritime surveillance aircraft and coping with territorial disputes. view the region as a significant future market. Recent events and tensions, such as the incursion in the East Malaysian Asian geopolitical considerations state of Sabah have placed even Although the region to Australia’s immediate north is relatively stable politically, and Australia remains greater importance on airborne on good terms with near neighbours including an maritime Intelligence Surveillance and improving relationship with Indonesia, there are Reconnaissance (ISR). a series of territorial disputes, acts of piracy and
geographic areas of focus that defence planners will need to consider when formulating strategic policies. Arguably, the most important in a pure geographic sense is the Strait of Malacca, which flows between the Indonesian archipelago and the Malaysian Peninsular. This narrow body of water links the Indian and Pacific Oceans via the South China Sea and is the shortest sea route between the Middle East and Asia. According to the United States’ Energy Information Administration (EIA), over 60,000 vessels transit the Strait each year and it represents, along with the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s key chokepoints. In 2011, the EIA estimated that 15.2 million barrels of oil per day, almost a fifth of the world’s daily oil production, passed through the Strait. Today it is estimated that a quarter of the world’s commerce and half of its oil shipments pass through this stretch of waterway. Obviously, this makes the Strait an important strategic objective – and many countries, including the growing world powers, China and India, have a strategic interest in not only keeping the waterway open and protected in peacetime, but also in
US Navy P-8 ‘Poseidon’ aircraft dispensing flares. (US Navy)
RMAF Hawk 108.
RMAF F/A-18D Hornet.
Australian Dash 8 aircraft.
controlling or closing it in times of conflict. Coupled with these strategic considerations is the current problem of piracy in the Strait. Although the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre has consistently reported decreasing occurrences in recent years, the threat remains. The decline in piracy in the Strait of Malacca has been attributed to increased patrols by the littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, which signed a Malacca Strait Patrols (MSP) agreement in 2004, later joined by Thailand in 2008. The MSP agreement oversees co-ordinated air and sea patrols by the four littoral nations and had effectively reduced the reported acts of piracy to zero by 2011. Perhaps a lesser global threat than closure of the Malacca Strait, but one with the real potential to ignite conflict between two or more Asian countries, relates to the numerous and ongoing maritime territorial disputes. The Spratly Islands, an archipelago of islands and reefs in the South China Sea are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, and these have been the source of tension for some time. Any observer of politics or geography can pick almost any two maritime nations in SouthEast Asia and there will be claim and counter-claim over disputed territory. This continues further afield into North Asia where recent clashes between Japanese and Chinese Coastguards over the Senkaku Islands have escalated. One of these long-simmering disputes, which had
Malaysian Sea King helicopter.
been ‘off the radar’ in recent times, rapidly sprung to the fore in March when an estimated 200 armed Filipino militants entered Sabah from the sea to further a claim which spans hundreds of years.
The Malaysian context The arrival of the Filipino insurgents from Sulu, which is only a short speedboat ride away from Sabah, initially caught Malaysian authorities off-guard and the government, in an election year, faced criticism for its slow response. Under Operation Daulat, Royal Malaysian Air Force F/A18D Hornets and Hawk Mk.208s struck insurgent positions with Paveway laser guided bombs, while Nuri (Sea King) helicopters supported Army and Police efforts to round up the armed groups. In the wake of Operation Daulat, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that two helicopters and three fixed wing aircraft from the Malaysian armed forces would immediately be modified for maritime patrol operations in Sabah. Zahid declined to specify which platforms would be modified, but said the assets were urgently required to patrol the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), set up after the operation. “This is a short term priority as Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) has been expanded to cover a larger areas under Esszone.” He told the New Straits Times in late March. “At the same time we will also be upgrading assets and procuring new ones to boost our defence capability. We will also review our defence spending budget to ensure
Malaysian King Air aircraft.
our security forces are adequately equipped to face threats to our sovereignty.” The unchallenged arrival of the insurgents and the stop-gap measure of converting existing assets to the maritime patrol role highlights existing weaknesses in Malaysia’s maritime ISR capability. In conjunction with the Malacca Strait patrol agreement, Malaysia formed the Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency) in 2004 with the amalgamation of government agencies such as Customs and Fisheries & Wildlife into a single organisation. Charged with the protection, security and national sovereignty in the Malaysian Maritime Zone, its air wing flies Maritime Patrol and Surveillance, Search and Rescue and medivac operations. The Royal Malaysian Air Force also operates a small fleet of King Air aircraft modified for the maritime patrol role, but these have been in service for some time now and arguably in need of replacement. However, Defence Minister Zahid told industry representatives at LIMA (shortly after Operation Daulat) that maritime patrol was the Government’s top priority and, although there is presently no formal Request for Proposal, there is the possibility that maritime SAR may be elevated above the RMAF’s fighter needs as the next project to gain traction. Like Australia, however, Malaysia is presently in an election year and due to go to the polls as this issue is being prepared. Whether Minister Zahid is serious about plans to increase maritime ISR capability, or whether his comments were for domestic consumption ahead of the election remains to be seen. What is beyond questionable doubt however is that the need exists.
Current Regional Capabilities Moving beyond Malaysia’s capabilities, the wider region has a range of maritime ISR assets but there are many differing requirements, from the littoral environment to the open ocean. Mission requirements are equally blurred and some of the larger platforms are equally capable of performing littoral ISR as well as blue water Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) or surveillance operations. Larger platforms are obviously more expensive to purchase, maintain, crew and operate and for many countries, tailoring a platform to its requirements is often beyond its available budget. Singapore has a maritime patrol responsibility for the Malacca Strait along with its neighbours, but does not have a large coastline of its own to keep under surveillance. Proximity to its neighbours however means it needs to be able to respond quickly and it presently has a fleet of very capable Fokker 50s to fill its requirements.
Royal Thai Navy Dornier Do-228-212.
Republic of Singapore Fokker 50.
RAAF Heron 50 UAV.
The island state also makes use of unmanned vehicles and arguably leads the way in the use of this technology in its immediate region. The Republic of Singapore Air Force operates a range of UAVs, from the indigenous tactical Skyblade to the Medium Altitude Long Range (MALE) Heron and Hermes 450. Indonesia has a large archipelago to patrol and requires a maritime ISR platform with long endurance. It currently operates a small fleet of Boeing 737-200 aircraft, fitted with an AN/APS-135 Side-looking Airborne Modular Multi-Mission Radar (SLAMMR). The country is also introducing the locally-built CN235-220 optimised for Maritime patrol, but progress has been slow and only a small number are in service with the Indonesian Air Force (TNIAU). Further afield, Thailand has a pair of Lockheed P-3T Orions and three elderly Fokker F.27-200 Enforcers as the mainstays of its maritime ISR fleet and seven smaller Dornier Do228s perform the littoral maritime patrol tasks. Australia contributes to regional maritime ISR via ‘Operation Gateway, which sees the RAAFs AP-3C Orions regularly patrolling the North Indian Ocean and South China Sea from Butterworth in Malaysia. “Operation Gateway is Australia’s enduring contribution to the preservation of regional security and stability in South East Asia,” a Defence Spokesperson detailed. “It helps maintain the bilateral Defence relationship between Australia and Malaysia and is part of the support to Australia’s efforts to counter people smuggling in the region.” RAAF Orions are responsible for the surveillance of Australia’s maritime approaches, predominantly to the north and northwest and are routinely deployed to Darwin and airfields in north-west Western Australia. They recently completed an almost decade-long deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations, where they performed anti-piracy and overland ISR missions. For littoral surveillance, Australia relies on the contracted fleet of Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft, optimised for maritime patrol and operated on contract to the Australian Customs Coastwatch operation by Surveillance Australia.
Australia is one exception to this, as it is looking to acquire both the Boeing P-8A Poseidon MultiMission Maritime aircraft and a HALE Multi-mission Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS) – most likely the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton – to replace the existing AP-3Cs. Littoral maritime ISR is an important mission set in the Australian requirements, which are being addressed by Project AIR 7000 Phases 1B (unmanned) and 2B (manned). Both phases are expected to deliver aircraft and systems by the early part of the next decade. If the Malaysian Defence Minister’s comments at LIMA translate into a programme of record, this country will likely seek a maritime ISR platform in the near future. Malaysia already operates the CN235 in the military transport role and a collaborative programme with Indonesia Aerospace (PT Dirgantara Indonesia) to acquire the maritime patrol version from the Bandung production line is not impossible. Indonesia Aerospace market both Maritime Patrol and ASW versions of the CN235 airframe and, as noted, a small number of the former are already in service with the TNI-AU. Alenia Aermacchi is another manufacturer keen to place its maritime ISR product in the region, in this case in the shape of the ATR 72, which also comes in MP or ASW versions. Speaking to press at LIMA, Roberto Leva, Alenia Aermacchi’s Head of Sales for Asia and Oceania said that Malaysia’s geography and requirements are no longer suited to small fixed wing ISR platforms and helicopters. “Malaysia has about 5000 kilometres of coast and a long overwater distance of about 1200 km between the mainland and East Malaysia, so a larger platform is required, he said. “The mission requirements demand long endurance
and that’s why today, medium-sized aircraft better fit the mission set.” Leva revealed that Alena Aermacchi had prepared a study of Malaysia’s needs, based around two patrol scenarios: Surveillance of the Strait of Malacca from a base near Kuala Lumpur, and a coastal/ littoral mission around East Malaysia, based upon an aircraft operating out of Kuching. “We see a requirement for a minimum of six aircraft and a maximum of twelve, but it depends on the mission and requirement,” he said. “Ten could be the perfect number.” Sweden’s SAAB is developing a Maritime Patrol variant of its SAAB 2000 airliner and is proposing a mixed deal, which includes the SAAB 2000MP, SAAB 340 or 2000 Airborne Early Warning & Control Aircraft and JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters, to satisfy three outstanding Malaysian requirements. A similar package (without the SAAB 2000MP) is currently being delivered to the Royal Thai Air Force. The recent problems faced by Malaysia have not been lost on industry and, at the lighter end of the spectrum, Hawker Pacific had a Special Missions version of the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350i on display at LIMA 2013. Although the aircraft at LIMA was not fitted out for maritime ISR, a surveillance version is available and could also be a contender for the local requirement. With larger platforms such as the P-8A or refurbished P-3 Orions too expensive to operate on many missions, the most likely solution would appear to be a medium or light platform – but with no RFP and no programme of record, the future is difficult to predict. One thing is certain however, the next LIMA show, to be held in 2015, will be showcasing more than fighters to Malaysia and her neighbours.
Programmes and requirements With the arguable exception of Singapore, all nations in the regions, including Australia, have a requirement to upgrade their maritime ISR capability, but there are not many formal programmes underway to date.
SAAB 2000 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
SEA 1448 – Enhancing ANZAC ship capability Nigel Pittaway
THE Royal Australian Navy’s ANZAC class frigates are in the midst of a significant capability upgrade to enhance their capability to operate with, and provide protection to, high value assets such as the new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships now under construction. This is a mid-life upgrade of the ships to world class standards and, in the case of the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) phases at least, using Australian technology to achieve its goals. HMAS Perth, the first ANZAC class frigate to be fully upgraded under the SEA 1448 project.
THE ASMD upgrade, which forms the majority of work in SEA 1448, adds new phased array radars and updates the ships’ combat systems, to counter multiple incoming anti-ship missiles. A further phase replaces the original Electronic Support Measures systems, and another phase beyond that will address air search radar obsolescence. The upgraded ships will complement the RAN’s new Air Warfare Destroyers, retaining operational viability in the ANZAC class until the Future Frigate project (SEA 5000) begins delivering vessels towards the end of the next decade. Although the ASMD component of the project has suffered technical difficulties in the past, recent trials during international naval exercises has proved the capability and impressed everyone involved. When the eighth, and last, vessel completes its upgrade process and rejoins the fleet in 2017, the ANZAC class will represent a major capability boost for Navy.
SEA 1448 Overview
The overarching SEA 1448 project is a multi-phase programme, although two of the major phases are now aligned in schedule and generally known as Phase 2. These include upgrading the Combat Management System with the integration of SAAB’s 9LV 453 Mk.3E CMS and installation of a Sagem Vampir NG Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST) system under Phase 2A; and the ASMD under Phase 2B – the now-completed Phase 1 of the project covered the study and analysis of upgrade paths used to inform the later phases. The ASMD upgrade aims to deliver an improved level of self defence against modern anti-ship
missiles along with improved performance in target detection over land and reduced response times when dealing with multiple targets. The upgrade integrates two active phased array radars from CEA Technologies. CEA’s CEAFAR active phased array radar incorporates multiple target indication and tracking functions against modern anti-ship weapons and is integrated with the CEAMOUNT unit, which will provide mid-course uplinks and terminal guidance for the Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile in response to attacks by multiple anti-shipping missiles. Although being conducted outside SEA 1448, the existing Link 11 datalink capability is also being replaced with the integration of Link 16 and Variable Message Format (VMF) systems. Phase 3 is a joint Australian/United States research and development project that builds on CEA’s active phased array technology to support development of future maritime radars. Phase 4A will address the supportability of the Electronic Support Measures systems by replacing the original system which has been in service since the beginning of the ANZAC ship programme, with the modern ES-3701 system from ITT-Exelis. Phase 4B, which is yet to be approved, intends to replace the AN/SPS-49(v)8 long range volume search radar capability.
Anti-ship Missile Defence Upgrade
Originally designed as an update programme for all eight ANZAC frigates, integration issues with the new active phased array radar systems and the existing ships structure resulted in the ASMD project being adjusted to initially deliver one vessel,
HMAS Perth, to demonstrate this technology at sea. This initial capability, known as Stage One, provided Navy with a significant improvement over the existing capability and led to Government approval for ships 2 to 8 to be included in the ASMD programme. It also led to the final stage (Stage 2), which sees the full capability of the ASMD system being utilised. Stage 1 essentially comprises the hardware, including modified masts for the CEAFAR & CEAMOUNT radar system, and an initial software release. The work is being carried out at BAE Systems Australia’s facility at Henderson in Western Australia, which has the capability to carry out up to three ASMD upgrades at once, two on the hardstanding and one alongside undergoing trials. The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, has approved the release of up to three ships at a time from the fleet for the ASMD work. Mark Simmonds [ASMD Project Director], in midApril said, “Progress on HMAS Perth, the lead ship, continues to track on schedule. Initial Operating Release for ASMD was granted in August 2011, for Stage 1 capability. We’re now working on Stage 2, a software only upgrade to the CMS and phased array radar. We have completed Cat. 3 testing, and Cat. 4 and 5 testing is scheduled to begin in the next couple of weeks.” This process will involve a number of alongside tests, followed by initial sea trials and then a work up with a number of other assets. HMAS Perth has already deployed with the Stage 1 modifications, including participation in the RIMPAC exercise with American and allied navies
last year and is now back alongside at Fleet Base West for the Stage 2 upgrade. The second ship, HMAS Arunta is already on the slipway and will have Stage 2 software incorporated from the outset when she begins sea trials early next year. Arunta is scheduled to rejoin the fleet in February 2014 and the last ship, HMAS Toowoomba, is due for completion in the first half of 2017. “With Stage 1 we’ve given the Navy a definite increase in capability from what they had, and when Stage 2 is rolled out later this year, that capability will significantly increase again,” said Mark Simmonds. “The Navy has indicated that Stage 1 capability has exceeded their expectations, and we have just returned from Western Australia where we put HMAS Perth’s crew into the simulator to test the Stage 2 capability, which they thought was excellent.” The completion of Cat.4 & 5 testing will culminate in a number of missile firings by HMAS Perth off the East Coast of Australia later in the year, and the system will be tested in conjunction with RAAF assets from Williamtown. The ship was also tested under operational conditions during Exercise Talisman Sabre in July/August and will conduct more missile firings at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Barking Sands in Hawaii.
Upgraded Electronic Support – Phase
SEA 1448 Phase 4A, which replaces the existing Thales Centaur ESM system with the ITT-Exelis ES-3701, gained Second Pass approval in February, and the programme intends to utilise the ASMD upgrade periods for incorporation. Some of the modifications to the ship’s mast, for example, are already being undertaken in anticipation. “As threats have evolved, we needed to invest in more capable systems,” explained Dan Keleher, Project Director of Phase 4A. “We have worked very closely with the ASMD project to prepare the ship for the new system and although we’ve only just gained Second Pass approval, we can align our schedule to install our equipment at the same time the ASMD upgrade is being done, but we’ll have to go back and upgrade HMAS Perth at an opportune time.” ITT-Exelis announced it had been awarded a $US 102 million contract in late March, for the supply of the ES-3701 system to both the ANZAC ships and the LHDs. The company already has a contract to supply the ESM system for the three Air Warfare Destroyers also under construction. The ES-3701 is a precision monopulse directionfinding ESM system that provides situational awareness, targeting, self-protection and surveillance capabilities. The sensor is critical to both the provision of long range warning and in its contribution to force level warfare. Phase 4A will also oversee the upgrade of shorebased facilities at the ANZAC Ship Support Centre at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia and also at the Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Unit (JEWOSU) at RAAF Edinburgh. According to the Defence Capability Plan, Initial Operating Capability will occur sometime between 2015 and 2017, when one system has been installed aboard ship and there are an adequate number of trained operators.
Although Phase 4B is still unapproved (i.e. preFirst Pass approval), it will replace the Raytheon AN/SPS-49(v)8 long-range air search radar with a modern digital unit. A long-range volume search radar capability is regarded as critical to both the provision of long range warning and for its contribution to unit and force level air warfare. The DCP details an IOC of between 2014 and 2018 but, given it is yet to gain First Pass approval, it would seem likely that integration into the first vessel will not occur until sometime around the end of the band given.
From an operator perspective the Combat System upgrade has provided significant improvements in system stability, operator utility and overall performance. The CEA radar has performed beyond expectations and in conjunction with the combat system provides the ANZAC class Frigate with the capability to survive in a contemporary and future multi-threat environment in the littoral battlespace.
Government approval of the ASMD Stage 1 capability onboard HMAS Perth and the subsequently successful sea trials cleared the way for the upgrade to proceed through to Stage 2 and with it came approval for a real cost increase to integrate the ASMD with the other seven ANZAC vessels. The original integration issues were solved by developing a risk reduction capability demonstration programme for Stage 1, which was initially carried out in the purpose-built CEAFAR integration site at CEA’s facility in Fyshwick before progressing to trials in the field. The next step was to take a
modular system aboard HMAS Perth which, once proven, cleared the way for integration into the ship. There were several challenges related to the tight challenging schedule. “The biggest risk I see to the remaining seven ships is the parallel work being included in the ASMD availability periods, but I am confident that this is being managed well within our agreed Integrated Master Schedule for the ANZAC class,” said Mark Simmonds.
Feedback from the Fleet
Operational feedback of the Stage 1 ASMD capability has been outstandingly positive, particularly in last year’s RIMPAC exercises and this bodes well for the enhanced capabilities offered by Stage 2 and the remainder of SEA 1448. “The ANZAC ASMD Upgrade stage 1 outfit has been installed in HMAS Perth for 24 months having achieved IOR in November 2011. Performance during Cat 5 testing and early operational testing has been outstanding, with all trials and subsequent testing on the Pacific Missile Range Facility proceeding on schedule and performing in accordance with requirements,” said a Defence Spokesperson. Live firings during RIMPAC 12 of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and Nulka (Anti-Shipping Missile Decoy) were described as ‘realistic and complex’ coalition environments, again with excellent results. “From an operator perspective the Combat System upgrade has provided significant improvements in system stability, operator utility and overall performance. The CEA radar has performed beyond expectations and in conjunction with the combat system provides the ANZAC class Frigate with the capability to survive in a contemporary and future multi-threat environment in the littoral battlespace,” said the Spokesperson. The upgrade is seen as greatly improving the ANZAC Class Frigate’s survivability in an environment where increased numbers of reduced RCS high speed (supersonic) ASM present a threat to the ship or the taskforce, both in Blue Water and in complex littoral environments. In combination with the Air Warfare Destroyer this will lay the foundations for RAN Task Group Operations over the next 20 years.
Live firing of an Enhanced Sea Sparrow missile.
Human dimension of USVs David Eshel
Saar 4.5 (photo: Ori Shifrin)
HISTORICALLY, the introduction of new technologies has changed the methods and tactics in which assets are used, and also has affected the profile of the soldiers and sailors operating these new technologies. Recently, a growing number of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) have been developed, some already deployed operationally by a number of navies.
Learned from the fielding of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), with extensive operational experience over the past two decades, is that operating UAVs is different in many ways to flying a manned plane. One main difference lies in the degree of Situational Awareness. Traditionally, pilots of combat aircraft receive situational awareness information from radar and other sensor agencies about the area of operations and the overall tactical picture. Surface ships, however, have always been more independent, although this is changing with the increased use of airborne early warning and control aircraft. In the modern era ships’ operators continuously work to formalise and decipher the tactical picture three-dimensionally at sea. With maritime radars being inefficient over long ranges, when the shoreline disappears behind the horizon, sailors cannot rely on ground based radar stations. Traditionally, navies perform a wide range of missions of a military nature at sea, defending sovereign territory, conducting surveillance and enforcement missions, and engaging the enemy in offensive operations. Alternatively, a USV is a maritime platform (ship
or submarine) that operates independently (autonomously) or is controlled remotely. Typically, operational USVs are controlled remotely from a station onshore or from a command ship. USVs operated manually are observed continually by an operator, or in a semi-autonomous fashion conducting simple tasks such as sailing in a predefined route or remaining in a certain location. The next generation of USVs is expected to have fully autonomous capabilities, capable of performing complex tasks independently. Operating USVs is usually divided into two main functions: Boat and Payload. ‘Boat’ includes manoeuvring and navigation as well as establishing the tactical picture around the USV, while ‘Payload’ function operates the different devices mounted on the platform such as electronic warfare equipment, weapon systems, observation devices and intelligence gathering payloads. The ‘Boat’ console in the USV provides the operator with information necessary to control the platform, producing a situational awareness picture and enabling remote control of the USV’s boat systems. This includes a display of the USV’s location and the arena (C²I), a video image of the surrounding
Saar s-72. (Israel Shipyards)
Silver Marlin with 12.7mm ORCWS and CoMPASS payload. (Elbit Systems)
area, a radar image, information from identification systems of various types (such as AIS) and other such presentations. The USV’s ‘skipper’ in a sense manoeuvres the USV and operates the USV’s Boat systems, such as the navigation equipment, flood pumps, fire extinguishing systems and engines. Operating the Payload is from a separate console displaying the status of the systems (direction of the weapon, video picture from a camera pod, sensor information, etc). The Boat console is usually generic to the type of the USV while the Payload console and software are interchangeable depending upon the nature of the mission: weapon payload for patrol, sonar for anti-submarine missions, cameras for intelligence gathering, etc. To successfully operate maritime platforms, trained crews and their commanding officers are required to possess a range of technological capacities on top of their personal ones as fighters and sailors – and the same professional skills relevant also for operation of USVs. USVs will be integrated into existing naval array of missions and manpower, as changes in technology have always affected the characteristics of the men behind the machines. The characteristics of the new naval officer who will command USV platforms relate mainly to the commander no longer being onboard the platform, rather the commander needs to sense the virtual deck. The operational envelope of a USV is different from that of an ordinary ship. Firstly, there is less information available to a USV in comparison with that onboard manned platforms. A USV operator receives less data and only measurable information since only measurable data can be sensed by devices and transmitted from the USV to the control station. For example, a USV operator can cause damage to the platform simply because he cannot feel the same acceleration forces imposed on the USV. Lacking this stimulation, the USV operator could decide to aim the USV into high waves and increase speed, unaware of the physical implications of such a command. Onboard a manned platform, a commander would intuitively realise the necessity of changing course or reducing speed. While automatic alarms provide some warning, too many interruptions can harm the mission, neutralising the advantages of using an unmanned platform. It is therefore essential that USV operators understand the sea conditions and their implications on the platform’s behaviour. Operating in harsh weather conditions is just one example of the dilemmas in remotely controlling USVs. The same argument can be applied to sailing at night, using the radar picture alone, and sailing close to shore or other vessels. These conditions are also problematic and relate mainly to the
distance between the operator and the platform. The USV operator controls the USV essentially as Instrument Sailing, observing a video image of the surrounding area, with most of the manoeuvring conducted according to radar image and relative movement calculations (extrapolating the direction and speed of a vessel in the real world from the radar image). These inputs are critical to operating and controlling a USV in an operational scenario. The USV operator needs to understand the tactical situation beyond the numerical data being displayed, and be able to comprehend the implications of the manoeuvres he demands from the platform in a real situation at sea. The operator needs to imagine being onboard the USV, while understanding that the human sensory information is lacking. He therefore must fill in the gaps in the data by translating the numerical information to familiar physical sensations. An experienced operator can skip this stage of translating raw data into imagined physical sensations. USV operator training programs address such issues through exercises and simulations. Then there’s the question of the character of USV operators. There is direct link between technological developments, the abilities of the operator and the data the system is required to provide in order to enable efficient control of the platform. As systems become more autonomous, human operators with different skills and different types of training will be required. Maritime navigation is a prime example of the need for changes in USV operator training compared with that of an onboard sailor. These days, training is intensive to teach naval officers how to navigate at sea by using different methods. The new operational approach for USVs, which regards technology as the only means of navigation and not the main one as in manned platforms, makes traditional training redundant in some respects. Similarly, the absolute necessity for sound command attributes for a USV operator is also questionable given that these officers may never command people, only machines. Not being exposed to fire and managing only small crews, the USV officer may not need to possess the same degree of command abilities as a traditional naval officer, and this new kind of command does not necessarily relate to the classical military command of personnel potentially under fire. Another dilemma relates to rules of engagement especially in maritime missile warfare from a warship. In the past, missile firing logic was based on human intervention, with the operator in charge of the missile all the way to the target. Operators needed to have good eye-hand coordination and be able to function well under the pressure of battle. But today, the automation of missile pre-
Mk38 MOD 2_25mm. (U.S. Navy Photo)
launch routine, route planning and precise in-flight navigation requires less intervention. It is therefore reasonable to assume similar advances will take place in the USV world as the platforms become more combative. Operators will need to be skilled in strategic thinking and planning, because they will need to plan autonomous missions in almost a fire-and-forget scenario. The operational departments within navies need to understand the implications of operational deployment of USVs and oversee necessary changes in all aspects of command, control and mission performing for such platforms and their operators. Similarly, manpower departments responsible for the recruitment and training of sailors and officers need information to assist them to get ready for these changes. Future sailors and naval officers will have to become accustomed to new technologies at a growing pace, and embrace new skills while they progress in their naval careers. Planning for many years in advance, manpower departments need established research data that identifies the directions of USV anticipated technological development. This will support preparation for future changes in manpower recruiting and training. In addition, such research needs to provide insights into the skills required for operating future systems and encourage a much needed synergy between human-machine interface engineering and human skills development.
Based on an interview with the USV Human Interface Program Specialist, Elad Gilat, Courtesy Defense Update Int.
Barak 8 (IAI)
Evolution of the Two-Ocean Navy Interview with Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe
AS an Indian Ocean state, Western Australia is of vital strategic importance and the presence of the Royal Australian Navy is critical in safeguarding and projecting Australia’s influence across the Indo-Pacific region. In this exclusive interview Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, outlines his views on the salience of the Indian Ocean to Australia, the strategic significance of HMAS Stirling, the RAN’s participation in border protection operations, measures to safeguard resources sector infrastructure off Australia’s NorthWest, and the feasibility of deploying the yet to enter service Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships.
DefenceToday: What is the background to the RAN’s presence in Western Australia, which by default is its Indian Ocean frontier? Vice Admiral Ray Griggs: The Indian Ocean has always been important to the Navy. Most people in the Navy understand that we’re an Indian Ocean nation, far more than the rest of the country, which by and large think that we’re a Pacific Ocean nation rather than a two-ocean nation. From its conception, the Royal Australian Navy has been active in the Indian Ocean. After all, the first major RAN action was when HMAS Sydney sank the Emden off the Cocos Islands in 1914. In both World Wars and in the early 1980s we had ships deployed to the north-west Indian Ocean as part of our response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We’ve had continual deployments of ships in the north-west Indian Ocean providing an independent presence in the region and four decades of port calls right around the Indian Ocean rim. In the 1980s the Government at the time decided to build a major facility at HMAS Stirling, which is the RAN’s largest base. There are about 25003000 people at Stirling so it is bigger than HMAS Cerberus and HMAS Kuttabul. We now have about a third of the fleet based in Western Australia, operating in the Indian Ocean continually. Our activities include the key training area of Perth,
the protection of critical offshore infrastructure in the North-West, border protection operations up in Christmas Island, activities off the Cocos Islands, and hydrographic survey activity on the north-west coast and offshore. All of our major operational activity is focused on the Indian Ocean today. We have nine ships participating in Operation Resolute and we have HMAS Newcastle, on our 55th individual ship deployment to the Middle East, undertaking a maritime security role.
DT: Why was Garden Island in Cockburn Sound
chosen as the location to establish a major naval base in the West? Admiral Griggs: In the 1980s, the Two Ocean Navy took shape, and we moved across a number of the old River-class frigates. We’d always had a patrol boat or two and hydrographic ships there but that was about it. Then we moved over the destroyer escorts, as they were known, and then one of our submarines ahead of the eventual move of the entire submarine squadron. This was the next big step, moving the home of submarines to Western Australia. In terms of wharf capacity, it can accommodate any ship in our inventory, including the LHDs, so it’s well suited to what we need. Initially, there really was almost two navies: the East Coast Navy and the West Coast Navy. Initially, the West Coast Navy was probably a bit more relaxed, because some of the support infrastructure wasn’t there, fast jet support and that sort, so it wasn’t as quite as full-on as on the East Coast. That phase quickly passed, as we had to invest in things such as the underwater tracking range and other things that we had to put in place. As more and more ships went over there was no real differential between an East Coast ship and a West Coast ship. We have the leading ASW range facilities so it helps us to analyse firings so it’s the lead ASW training area now, whereas the East Coast is more traditionally seen as the lead air warfare training area because of the proximity to RAAF Williamtown and the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. A key requirement for a major fleet base is an industrial support base, to sustain our ships. That’s a key reason it’s in Perth, and not in Geraldton or somewhere else in Western Australia. Perth is a communications hub, it has an industrial support base, it’s got all those things that are very useful to support us. In terms of why Garden Island and not Fremantle, I think it’s purely a function of capacity;
it made a lot of sense at the time to not crowd out the Fremantle port, and there was limited ability to grow beyond the existing infrastructure, whereas Stirling was a greenfield site.
DT: What are the strategic advantages of operating from HMAS Stirling?
Admiral Griggs: Response times are obviously
shorter but once a ship gets into the region it doesn’t matter whether it comes from Sydney or from Perth, but it certainly gives a better response in terms of reach. For example, going over for an exercise with India, from Stirling it’s a good seven to ten days closer than from Sydney, and on a there-and-back trip, it becomes nearly a month. Similarly, to travel, say, to Java it’s about seven days from Sydney to Darwin, then another two to three days to Java. From Perth, in comparison, it’s four to five days to get to Java.
DT: Since much of Australia’s border protection
concerns are Indian Ocean-centric, and involve the RAN surface assets stationed at HMAS Stirling and HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, what are the RAN’s contributions to border protection operations? Admiral Griggs: Our contract is to provide seven Armidales every day for operations, which is 50 per cent of the Armidale fleet daily. We normally work on the ‘rule of threes’ with ships: with three ships, you can probably sustain one on operations. So, it’s a big ask, given that we’re asking for 50 per cent of the fleet to be available every single day for operations. We also provide a frigate or a hydrographic ship to support the activity, and we often have a mine-hunter assigned, effectively nine ships assigned to the Operational Command for use in Operation Resolute. The vessels are spread from Christmas Island right across to the Torres Strait. It’s a huge operational front that is our biggest operation, with around 400-500 members of the RAN committed on a day-to-day basis.
DT: There’s also the ongoing debate about
increasing the RAN’s presence off the resourcerich North-West Western Australian coastal zone. What is the Navy role in this regard? Admiral Griggs: Our primary contribution is through the ships that we provide to Border Protection Command, and they work on about eight or nine maritime threats, allocating forces according to the need to manage and monitor them. That’s our primary contribution as part of a co-ordinated effort. When I took over as Chief I took action to institutionalise what we did in the Bass Strait: making a point of going through the offshore facilities and showing visible presence to merchant shipping that there was a warship there, contacting the rigs, talking to them, finding out what was going on. I instituted that formally in 2011 for the North-West Shelf, for RAN ships that were not part of the daily border protection operation; ships that were going north for an exercise or deployment to Asia, for example. They are now required to go through the offshore platforms to establish communications, to show that presence. We are trying to increase some of our exercising up in that area, both ADF-wise and at a Navy level. There’s now a strong focus on the North-West. There are still those who say that it’s not enough, and that we should have ships permanently based up there, but you’ve got to be intelligence-led on the threats that exist and, at the moment, I think our posture is about right.
DT: Some years back during the Howard
Government, a forward operating base was founded at the North-West port of Dampier. What function has this minor facility served and how has it been utilised by the Navy? Admiral Griggs: When the Armidales first came into service, we utilised a small facility in Dampier to be a forward support base for our patrol boats working in the North-West. It’s there but it’s not heavily used at the moment but we try to get into Dampier as much as we can, because it is an incredibly busy port and getting a berth is sometimes quite difficult.
DT: When the RAN eventually brings its new capabilities into service, such as the two LHDs, how often will they use HMAS Stirling? Much of the official discussion points to their use in the Pacific, but to what extent are they likely to be deployed in the Indian Ocean? Admiral Griggs: Their main focus will be on the South-West Pacific and up into East Timor, across the archipelago. Their role will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and this is where most of the activity will occur, so I think our basing of the LHDs is right. Clearly, from an Indian Ocean perspective, they represent a significant humanitarian and disaster relief capability. If there were something like the tsunami that occurred almost a decade ago, that’s the sort of capability that we would deploy to assist. It would bring significant capability to the region. DT: Given that the ADF has been consistently
deployed in the Indian Ocean since the end of the Vietnam War, how do you respond to those who argue for the relocation of at least one LHD to operate out of HMAS Stirling? Admiral Griggs: In terms of being permanently based in the West, I think the weight should still be with the Asia-Pacific, the South-West Pacific. Our response to disasters in Indonesia all came out of the East Coast. Also, when you build the infrastructure around a class of ship, with only two ships, to split them becomes an incredibly uneconomic and inefficient adventure. If it’s a natural disaster we respond from wherever we are, to wherever we need to go. So pre-positioning, on the one hand, could be good but it may not be. For instance, every time you put the East Coast ship into maintenance, do you bring the West Coast one across? Things like that. In terms of contingency planning, that’s the beauty of ships: they can be pre-positioned, they can go and wait somewhere for something to happen. Nevertheless, I suspect the LHDs will be visiting Stirling on a frequent basis.
Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe is a security analyst, defence writer, consultant and Visiting Fellow at the National Security Institute, University of Canberra.
opposite page: A RAN ‘Armidale’ class patrol boat intercepts and boards a suspected illegal boat off northern Australia. top: Aerial view of the Navy’s facilities on Garden Island in Sydney. above: Aerial view of HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. below: HMAS Collins alongside the BAE Systems Australia dock at Williamstown, Victoria.
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