Volume 11 Number 2 - December 2014
AVALON Air Show special edition
comes of age Print Post - 100004497
Thunderstorm Future Air Warfare
Next Generation Bomber
secret aerospace program of the century
AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW AND AEROSPACE & DEFENCE EXPOSITION
AVALON2015 24 FEBRUARY - 1 MARCH 2015 GEELONG, AUSTRALIA
Trade Visitor pre-registration is now open... ...Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss out register now! http://www.airshow.com.au/airshow2015/TRADE/trade-visitors/pre-registration.asp
AVALON 2015 is Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premier aerospace and defence exposition and a leading aerospace and defence forum for Australia, Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. AVALON 2015 will be the perfect occasion for you to connect with the aerospace and defence community. The industry-only Trade Sessions of the 2015 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition are Tuesday 24, Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 February and until 1400 on Friday 27 February. Only qualified trade visitors may attend during these times. These industry-only Trade Sessions are reserved for those with a professional, business or operational involvement in aviation, aerospace, defence or related government or industry sectors. Registration as a trade visitor is required. Business card, company identification, applicable association membership card, CASA license or similar evidence of qualification may be required as a part of the registration process. The cost of entry as a trade visitor to Avalon 2015 is AUD$60 per person per day. Defence personnel will be given free entry on Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 February and until 2pm on Friday 27 February on presentation of their current Defence identification. No person under the age of 16 years will be admitted during the Trade Sessions.
DEFENCETODAY managing editor
business development creative
Nigel Pittaway Peter Layton Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe Dr David Kilcullen
advertising enquiries +61 (0) 7 3282 9019 DefenceTODAY . vol 11 no 2 . december 2014
Australia’s fighter of the future, the F-35A ‘Lightning II’ passed an important milestone recently, with the first production model for Australia entering the flight test programme in the United States. The first Australian pilot, Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson has begun training on the F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base. (Defence)
published by Strike Publications Pty Ltd PO Box 124 Ipswich 4305 Queensland Australia telephone: +61 (0) 7 3282 9019 facsimile: +61 (0) 7 3812 3233 email: firstname.lastname@example.org internet: www.strikepublications.com.au
FEATURE REPORT 2 C OMBAT THUNDERSTORM, A NEW FORM OF AIR WARFARE Future air warfare using a distributed network-enabled force
ABN 41 010 922 335 Print Post 100004497 ISSN 1447-0446
DEFENCE FOCUS on AUSTRALIAN AIRPOWER
FROM THE EDITOR In this special Australian Air Power edition of DefenceToday, to be distributed at the Australian International Air Show at Avalon we profile the current state of Air Power in Australia. This is timely, given that six F/A-18F Super Hornets have been flying combat missions over Iraq over the past four months; this demonstrates how quickly things can change and why the Australian Defence Force needs to have the capability to respond rapidly to constantly changing threats and military campaigns. Nigel Pittaway reports on the strategic effects and implications of Operation Okra. Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown has no doubt that “Air Power is t he most agile and most responsive military instrument available to Government regardless of the nature of the operation.” In a special report he outlines his reasons for making the case to Government for significant and ongoing investment in platforms and technology assigned to Australian Air and Space power. On a similar theme, Peter Layton examines the pathway to a Future Counter Air Force Structure for Australia – the ability to wage a new form of air warfare, one that uses distributed forces all seamlessly exchanging data and fighting as an integrated whole – producing a combat thunderstorm of air power. In a special report military strategist David Kilcullen outlines events that gave strength to Islamic ‘State’ forces, and why the world needs to find ways to deal with this threat without destroying the free society we seek to protect. Heralded as the ‘aerospace program of the century’ the US Air Force’s Long-Range Strike Bomber will replace the Cold War era B-52 bomber fleet. We look at the implications of this $50 billion program that will also impact on which companies build combat aircraft in the coming decades. New acquisitions in recent years, including Super Hornet, Wedgetail AEW&C, KC-10A Tanker Transport and C-17A global airlifter have significantly increased air power capability – and new acquisitions (EA-18G Growler and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, will add more substance to the future network enabled force. Separate reports analyse and outline the separate and collective effect these platforms and technologies have on Australian Air Power. John Armstrong
HIEF OF AIR FORCE ADVOCATES INCREASED INVESTMENT C IN AUSTRALIAN AIR POWER Air Marshal Brown puts the case for new air platforms, advanced technologies and network-enabled force structure
16 N EW LONG-RANGE STRIKE BOMBER TO REPLACE B-52 US Air Force banks on a new ‘B-3’ for its nuclear bomber force 20 I MPACT OF OPERATION OKRA IN IRAQ ON ADF FUTURE Can RAAF combat operations be sustaine over an indefinite period 24 R AAF’S WEDGETAIL AEW&C COMES OF AGE, FINALLY Airborne surveillance platform shows it’s now world class 28 C OUNTERING THE EMERGING THREAT FROM ASIA Impact of the emergence of China as the second Asian superpower 31 R AAF AIR POWER – A COHESIVE SOLUTION TO FUTURE THREATS Transformation of Air Force into an agile and adaptive force 36 E NHANCED AIRLIFT ADDS TO ADF CAPABILITIES C-17A Globemaster and KC-30A MRTT add significantly to Air Power support 40 A NZAC FRIGATE UPGRADE PROJECT SUSTAINS JOBS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA Harnessing the industrial strength of WA’s defence sector
LAST WORD 42 I SIS AND THE THREAT TO HUMANITY WORLDWIDE Dealing with ISIS without destroying freedoms in the process
Combat thunderstorm, a new form of air warfare
Peter Layton Two Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on combat air patrol over Irag.(Defence)
The 2000 Defence White Paper forecast a series of projects that would modernise the ADF’s air combat capabilities. This is underway but not as first envisaged, after the RAAF suddenly chose the Joint Strike Fighter in 2002 as the F-111 and F-18A/B replacement aircraft. Continual delays in the JSF program have forced governments to acquire interim platforms to keep pace with air combat capability. The RAAF has been the big winner in this, 72 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) being acquired with plans to buy 24 more later, along with 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers. The three additional new squadrons of aircraft offer new capabilities that potentially could allow the RAAF to wage a new form of air warfare, one that uses distributed forces all seamlessly exchanging data and fighting as an integrated whole – producing a combat thunderstorm of air power.
Future Counter Air Force Structure One of the RAAF’s five core roles is ‘control of the air’, defined as ‘the ability to conduct operations in the air, land and maritime domains without effective interference from adversary air power and air defence capabilities’. This involves counter air operations: defensive air operations over friendly territory and offensive air operations into enemy territory. By 2025, the fighter force will comprise four squadrons of F-35A Lightning IIs, a squadron of EA-18G Growlers and two squadrons of F/A-18F Super Hornets. The continually upgraded F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornet fleet will have finally left service around 2023. The F-35 has been labelled a revolutionary 5th Generation fighter but when considering operational capabilities, however, the aircraft represents more of a normal evolutionary change of a similar magnitude to that from the Sabre to the Mirage, and then from the Mirage to the F-18. The F-35 offers operational improvements over the F-18 aircraft,
which is important as threat aircraft and systems have also improved. In terms of airframe air combat performance the F-35 is little changed when compared to the F-18, with broadly similar speed, manoeuvrability, range and combat payload. Indeed for pilots, given the F-35’s high weight and wing loading, landing speeds will be more reminiscent of the Mirage than the F-18. The F-35’s weapons are also similar and at times identical to that of the F-18s. The significant evolutionary changes introduced are in stealth and avionics. The F-35 is designed with stealth features constrained by the need for the aircraft to provide adequate air combat performance (defined as similar to that of the previous F-16s and F-18s) and affordability in terms of ease of maintenance. The F-35 will be very difficult for older SAM fire control and fighter radars to reliably detect and continuously track. Commentators though suggest the aircraft may be able to be detected by lower frequency early-warning radars, arguing that for this role a flying wing
Strike Mobility Surveillance and Engagement Missiles
design is necessary, as in the B-2 Spirit, RQ-170 Sentinel and the X-47 UCAV demonstrator. Such an all-frequency stealth configuration though would significantly hamper F-35 manoeuvrability. The F-35 is considered not just stealthier in some particular radar frequencies and not others, but also stealthier in certain sectors than others. Accordingly, the pilot will need to be aware of the threat radar system’s geolocation so the aircraft can be best positioned and manoeuvred to avoid detection and tracking. In this, by 2025, newer SAM and fighter radars will be operational and may be able to detect F-35s albeit at hopefully only limited ranges. This is no surprise. The first stealth aircraft, the F-117, entered service in the early 1980s and threat system designers have been working assiduously to counter such low observability ever since. Over its service life the F-35 can be expected to become progressively more vulnerable to detection as new threat systems are developed. In terms of avionics, the F-35 has a different architecture to that of the F-18, which has a federated architecture, in which the aircraft sensors and systems present their information to the pilot on different displays. The pilot has to combine all this, at times conflicting, information in his head while also flying the aircraft. Pilot cognitive overload was normal in single seat fighters flying in combat or on high workload training missions. In contrast, the F-35 mission software includes a fusion engine that integrates data from the sensors and systems and presents this information as a single, fused ‘big picture’, significantly reducing pilot workload. The pilot’s perspective can now be managing the air battle around the aircraft, not focused mainly on managing own-aircraft sensors and systems. The second air combat element, the Growler, gives the RAAF and the wider ADF a completely new capability: force-level electronic warfare. Other RAAF aircraft have electronic warfare self-defence systems, such as the F-18’s jammer pods, but the Growler is designed to deliberately seek out and attack hostile radar systems. The Growler is
some 90 per cent common with the Super Hornet and has similar flight performance but does not feature an internal 20-mm gun or carry wingtip missile rails, as these are replaced by electronic surveillance and attack components. In terms of avionics the Growler has three important integrated electronic warfare attack systems. Firstly, the Northrop Grumman ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receiver (TJSR) that can detect, analyse, identify and geo-locate radar transmissions. The TJSR then cues and provides this realtime electronic data to the Growler’s ALQ-99 radar jammers and anti-radiation missiles. Secondly, the EA-18G has the podded Exelis ALQ-99F high-powered jammer system that can counter low or high frequency radars, although the band must be so configured before flight. Thirdly, the Raytheon ALQ-227 Communications Countermeasures Set can intercept threat communication systems and cue the ALQ-99 (if low band configured) to jam them. The three integrated systems provide the crew with an excellent electronic overview of the overall battlespace. Radar and communication emitters can be accurately located and, if needs be, attacked through jamming or ‘kinetic’ means. The crew’s ‘big’ picture moreover can be shared with other aircraft and ground command systems through the Growlers’ data link and satellite communication systems. Growler also introduces a new missile to the RAAF: the AGM-88E Advanced AntiRadiation Guided Missile (AARGM). What makes this missile superior to the older AGM-88 HARM is the AARGM’s new guidance section that allows attacks against intermittently transmitting radars. AARGM has a sophisticated dual millimetric-wave radar and anti-radiation homing seeker that allow radars to be accurately attacked even after they have shutdown. In the future, if a hostile surface radar transmits, it will stand a high probability of being destroyed The third air combat element is the Super Hornet. By comparison with the F-35, the Super Hornet offers broadly similarly manoeuvrability but gains in range and
B-2 Stealth bomber positioning behind a tanker aircraft to take on fuel. (US Air Force)
F/A-18A Hornet carrying the JASSM weapon during OT&E at Woomera Range in South Australia. (Defence)
F/A18F Super Hornet carrying AGM-88E Advanced AntiRadiation Guided Missile (AARGM) (USNavy)
By 2025, the RAAF will be able, if all works out, to wage an air war using distributed forces all seamlessly exchanging data and fighting as an integrated whole. Earlier visions of network centric warfare will have been made real in the form of an advanced ‘combat thunderstorm.’
F-35B testing a weapon bay containing an AIM-120 C-5 missile shape in its internal weapons bay. (US Air Force)
SUPERIOR AIR POWER DEPENDS ON PROVEN TRAINING
Australia’s military pilots answer the call for any mission, no matter how challenging. Team 21 supports this mission, offering an efficient, modern pilot training system that’s already delivering exceptional performance in Australia. Team 21—the right choice for training, to enable Australia’s air power today and tomorrow.
Australian aircraft assigned to the Air Task Group deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE fly in formation: KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, three F/A-18F Super Hornets and an E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. (Defence)
combat payload. The Super Hornet also has many similar sensors and air-to-air weapons, with the big differences as noted earlier in stealth and sensor fusion. The Super Hornet has some low observable enhancements and better sensor fusion than the classic Hornet but these remain areas the F-35 leads. The Super Hornet though counters the latter somewhat by having two people in the cockpit; two aircrew are always harder to task-saturate than one. There is more to the counter air mission though. The RAAF also has a modern air battle management system, with the E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft (described elsewhere in this edition). Wedgetail provides a comprehensive, wide-area picture of the air battlespace built up using onboard radar and electronic surveillance sensors fused with information provided by other aircraft and off board systems through data links. The Boeing Vigilare ground-based air defence command and control system is similar, in that, data from multiple sensors, air, ground and sea based, are fused into the RAAF’s Recognised Air Picture, the really ‘big picture’ of air activity across the whole operational area. The sensors that can feed into Vigilare include JORN, a very low frequency radar able to detect hostile air targets at exceptionally long ranges albeit with some inherent detection and tracking reliability limitations. A key element of the counter air mission is the air-to-air refuelling fleet. Fighters suffer from their short-range, making aerial refuelling by the five KC-30A MRRTs essential for counter air operations. Of import, is that the KC-30s have data link fitted and so can receive the air picture others transmit.
Future Air Warfare Concepts The diversity of aircraft types is readily apparent; less obvious is that the avionics fits of new aircraft types now allow a different form of air warfare than before. Previously, air warfare was in many respects pre-scripted so making changes to the mission while airborne was problematic. Flexibility could be built in through clever planning and tactics but this had its limitations, such as each aircraft only capable of a certain number and type of weapons able to be delivered. The future air operations construct changes all this. The key to future air operations is enhanced situational awareness. With all aircraft connected through data-links and able to exchange real-time information all will have the ‘big picture’. This is not just exchanging radar track data but also electronic surveillance data allowing targets to be detected and identified with a high degree of confidence. All involved will know where the hostile aircraft and systems across the battlespace are located, their type and mission profile. This extends not just to air targets but also to the electronic battlespace where emitters can be geo-located and identified. All-round visibility is also key: a 360-degree view extending hundreds of kilometres. The F-35 pilots, Wedgetail crews and Vigilare operators will benefit from a fused, widearea, integrated surface and air picture. The mission aim therefore is for Super Hornets and F-35s to engage hostile aircraft at long ranges using AIM-120C-7/D AMRAAM, medium range air-to-air missiles. The multi-sensor big picture transmitted to
all friendly aircraft will provide an accurate identification of distant aircraft well outside visual range. Previously, such forms of electronic identification were erratic and in many cases the fighters needed to close with the target and visually verify that it was a hostile aircraft before engaging, but not any more. Hostile aircraft will be able to be engaged well before they close with friendly fighters. The new AIM-120D missile, specially developed to withstand vibrations associated with internal carriage in the F-35’s weapons bay, has a range of some 180km and permits much longer-range air-to-air engagements than currently. Greater situational awareness will allow long-range surprise engagements of hostile aircraft from unexpected directions, allowing friendly forces to gain and retain an overwhelming tactical advantage. With a high-quality counter-air picture distributed air operations become feasible, as no one aircraft is crucial. In having multiple aircraft with multiple sensors all contributing, the loss of one input would not be catastrophic. An example might be a future offensive counter-air operation deep in hostile well-defended air space that prevents a Wedgetail from operating there. F-35s, Growlers and Super Hornets though can operate in such air space and, if there are several of them, by exchanging data they can build up a useful, detailed wide-area picture. The more numerous the aircraft involved the more detailed, comprehensive and widearea the picture, and the greater the overall redundancy. Recently retired chief of the USAF’s Air Combat Command, General Mike Hostage, terms distributed air operations as a ‘combat cloud’ but brings in an important
new addition. Each aircraft in the cloud can decide in real-time how best to prosecute the overall mission and does not need to rely on advice from distant ground controllers and commanders. Accordingly, and with new software and data-link advances, it will be possible for one aircraft in the cloud to electronically designate a target for another aircraft in the cloud. In General Hostage’s vision, the F-35s would retain their weapons as long as possible and instead use the weapons carried by the less stealthy Super Hornets and possibly in some circumstances the Growlers. The F-35s in this vision could be further forward in hostile airspace making good use of their stealth features for survivability and their data fusion to managing the ‘big picture’. The Super Hornets on the other hand would be survivable missile trucks throwing a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons forward for the F-35s to guide. The combat cloud is perhaps better named a ‘combat thunderstorm’, hurling destructive lightning bolts from any part of the cumulonimbus. This also highlights though that quality not just quantity is important. The heterogeneous nature of the RAAF’s future force structure is crucial albeit this was not originally planned and budgeted for when the JSF program was first joined by Australia. For example, the F-35 is much less effective as an electronic surveillance and attack aircraft as the role optimised Growler is. The Growler has
greater frequency coverage, has all-round surveillance coverage and features better emitter identification and geo-location capabilities, especially when operating in three aircraft formations. The electronic order of battle picture the Growlers build up can provide the F-35s and Super Hornets with a much superior picture than the one they can build themselves. Moreover, the Growlers can jam the lower frequency radars that stealth aircraft like the F-35 may be susceptible to in some circumstances. Quality is important but importantly this is diverse quality. In the future both defensive and offensive counter air missions will use the ‘combat thunderstorm’ form. The same air warfare concept is useful and appropriate to both types although the mix of elements that
make up the ‘combat thunderstorm’ will vary based on the situation. In this, quantity and quality will be critical variables. By 2025, then the vision of network centric warfare first glimpsed in the late 1990s will finally be realised. Or maybe. There are some important issues in all this.
Combat Thunderstorm or Light Drizzle? To realise this vision a number of matters need to be both understood and addressed. For the RAAF, range remains a perennial issue so the five KC-30 tankers are really important especially for offensive air operations or putting a ‘combat thunderstorm’ over a fleet a long way at sea. If the RAAF’s fighters
‘Vigilare’ will significantly enhance the effectiveness of Australia’s existing air surveillance and battle management capabilities. (Defence)
DHOAS Home Loan compatible
A DEFENCE BANK
HOME LOAN 0.80%PA OFF
IS YOUR HOME LOAN
OUR STANDARD VARIABLE HOME LOAN RATE
We can help you with your DHOAS Home Loan Talk to us first. Our Mobile Home Loan Consultants can come to you. Call 1800 033 139 (8am to 8pm AEST weekdays) or visit defencebank.com.au/homeloan
We Serve *0.80% interest rate discount only available when you take out the Ultimate Package and link it to an eligible Defence Bank home loan, with a minimum of $150,000 in total home loan borrowings. Terms and conditions, fees and charges apply and are available on request. Bridging finance only eligible at Defence Bank’s discretion. Approval subject to Defence Bank’s lending criteria. DHOAS eligibility criteria apply. Please refer to defencebank.com.au for current rates. Defence Bank Limited ABN 57 087 651 385 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 234582.
DEFB8140 DHOAS Half Page Ad 135x185_FA.indd 1
15/01/15 3:10 PM
An EA-18G ‘Growler’ comes in to land on an aircraft carrier. (US Navy)
can’t reach the target or stay there long enough, they will have little impact on the operation. The previous Defence Minister, David Johnston is on record that the next Defence White Paper may propose acquiring two more tankers. From the RAAF’s new operational concept viewpoint, these additional aircraft would be very valuable. In this, there is a partial solution to the limited tanker numbers when undertaking some offensive counter air missions. The classic Hornets have the AGM-158 Joint Air-toSurface Standoff Missile (JASSM) fitted for precision attacks against highly defended targets. The RAAF’s current JAASMs have a range of some 400kms but the newer JASSMExtended Range (JASSM-ER) improves this to some 1000kms. In counter-air missions attacking fixed ground installations and aircraft hangars it makes more sense to use a single F-35 to fire four JASSM-ERs from a distance then use a flight of F-35s (and an accompanying tanker) to close with the enemy and drop short-range weapons. With the right weapons, the F-35 could then approximate the unrefuelled combat range of the F-111. That is the short-range F-35 flies out 1000km, fires a 1000km JASM-ER and this hits a target that is 2000km from the F-35’s airbase and all without the need for tanking. While the Super Hornet might be even better at this long-range attack, the F-35 by 2025 will hopefully have JASSM-ER integrated whereas the Super Hornets may not, making using the F-35 more economically sensible. In this case, better, longer-range weapons can overcome the constraints imposed by small tanker numbers. As is readily apparent, the ‘combat thunderstorm” idea relies completely on all aircraft being able to transfer information amongst themselves to allow the ‘big picture’ to be built up. Surprising then, the F-35 does not presently have a data link that allows it to communicate adequately with the other aircraft involved. The F-35 has a special Low-Probability-of-Intercept data link that allows the aircraft to remain stealthy and exchange data with other F-35s but this is unique and cannot communicate with other
F/A-18F Super Hornet carrying missiles, GBU and Laser Guided munitions. (Defence)
aircraft including the USAF’s Lockheed F-22A Raptor. General Hostage has declared he is “appalled” and has made solving it a top ACC priority. Hopefully, by 2025 it will be, or a different air warfare concept will need embracing. The ‘combat thunderstorm’ idea also relies on keeping up with the electronic warfare threat. If new radars can defeat stealth, the F-35s and Super Hornets become more vulnerable. If the data links that make information transfer possible are jammed the whole idea collapses. If the enemy fields new airborne jamming systems, the F‑35’s and Super Hornet’s radars may be rendered useless and the making of a’big picture’ impossible. Already the US Navy is worried about the proliferation of advanced digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammers that potentially may have such a capability. This is not brand new technology. The RAAF first used Elta EL/T-8222 DRFM jammer pods on the F-111 and these are now available for classic Hornet operations. The ‘combat thunderstorm’ idea needs a real focus on keeping up to date in electronic warfare. Extending this, a feature of this form of air warfare is the need for big data. The sensor fusion engines used across the F-35, Growler, Super Hornet, Wedgetail and Vigilare systems need a lot of mission relevant data to be able to develop a ‘big picture’. In the F-35 for example, the mission software needs the characteristics of potential hostile aircraft to be programmed in. Without knowing these identifying characteristics the sensor fusion engine will only be able to tell the pilot that the aircraft detected is an unknown. In such cases the pilot may need to fly the F-35 within visual range of the unknown aircraft to determine if it is hostile and should be engaged. The F-35 though is less manoeuvrable than most other modern fighters and if engaging in visual range combat may come out second best, or at least draw even with both aircraft destroyed. To be as effective as it can be in the modern battle space, the F-35 really needs big data to help it achieve superior situational awareness and survive.
To supply the data hungry elements of the ‘combat thunderstorm’ means fielding improved data collection and processing systems and having sufficient highly skilled staff. This part of the ‘combat thunderstorm’ is not just people intensive but highly skilled people intensive. In this regard Australian industry may be able to play a role, however this may be limited as the RAAF’s F-35 mission data reprogramming facility will be in Florida not in Australia. In passing, the comparable Wedgetail and Vigilare facilities are in Australia. The under-development Australia–Canada– United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL) at Eglin Air Force Base will undertake all the mission data reprogramming for the three nation’s F-35s. At the facility some 20 Australians will work alongside some 20 UK, 20 Canadian staff and 50 US staff. The US F-35s will be supported from a different, but near by, reprogramming facility. The responsiveness of the ACURL facility to changing operational conditions will be central to the combat effectiveness of the RAAF’s F-35. A 2012 Australian National Audit Office report provides an example that highlights how important this all is. The F-35s threat emitter identification system compares the radars detected by the aircraft against an electronic library of mission specific emitter data with this continually updated library “to be provided by mission data reprogramming laboratories.” Successful sensor fusion in real world environments needs the off‑shore ACURL to be highly accessible and responsive. RAAF F-35 combat effectiveness depends on it. By 2025, the RAAF will be able, if all works out, to wage an air war using distributed forces all seamlessly exchanging data and fighting as an integrated whole. Earlier visions of network centric warfare will have been made real in the form of an advanced ‘combat thunderstorm.’ From an operational perspective, it is both an appealing and a really challenging future.
Prime location for Australian Defence Force military pilot training and testing. Base of the RAAF Roulettes and the Central Flying School
STRATEGIC LOCATION Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s centre for excellence in defence research including unmanned aircraft systems and advanced materials
R&D Leading the way in defence industry exports and global supply chains. 18 overseas Victorian Government Business Offices supporting global market access. 70 percent of the Australian content for the Joint Strike Fighter program
GLOBAL REACH World-class defence industry innovation and commercialisation activities supported by DSI, DMTC, DSTO
INNOVATION Largest number of aerospace engineers in Australia. Leading-edge skills in systems engineering, composite materials and software development
Photo credits: All images are copyright and reproduced by the Victorian Government with permission from Australian Department of Defence, Thales Australia, Chemring Australia and Marand.
PROVEN ACROSS THE FULL DEFENCE INDUSTRY SPECTRUM, ONLY VICTORIA PROVIDES COMPLETE CAPABILITY Victoria understands the growing and changing needs of the global defence market. With the backing of a powerful supply chain and a business focussed Government, your defence investments are safe with us.
For more information, come meet us at the Victorian Pavilion at the 2015 Australian International Airshow at Avalon in February or visit the Defence Industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s webpage at www.dsdbi.vic.gov.au/defence.
Role of Air Power in a changing world Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown says that in the present relatively peaceful times, while recognising the current military effort in the Middle East, it’s the right time to ensure Australia’s military capabilities can meet future challenges. The CAF pointed to Air Power as most suited to rapid response to constantly changing threats and military campaigns, as clearly demonstrated by the Blitzkreig type advance of Islamic forces across Iraq under the ISIS flag.
“If one factor has characterised the application of military force in this century it has been the very abbreviated lead times for the response by our forces and those of our allies,” the CAF said in a recent speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
“Air Power is the most agile and most responsive military instrument available to Government regardless of the nature of the operation. Our leads times are calibrated in hours, even minutes, as events over Iraq have clearly demonstrated. “In the case of Air Force, staying abreast of technological change is a challenge without respite. We operate sophisticated weapon systems, the cost of which is substantial and must be amortised over a decent working life. Yet we cannot afford to operate outmoded equipment. There is simply no substitute for the technological edge in our business.” In making the case for significant and ongoing investment in platforms and technology assigned to Australian Air and Space power Air Marshal Brown says such investment
is essential to the Air Force meeting the Government’s expectations of responsive and effective options as challenges to our national security emerge in the future. “We must be vigilant to ensure that our grand strategy, and the forces that we raise, train and sustain to implement it, are aligned to the changing character of the global system and the consequential changes in the character of conflict.” The CAF identified that Australia is entering a particularly challenging period of its history as a nation, a period of political and economic instability, and that this will shape a potentially volatile and dangerous security environment in our region and among nations with whom our future is inextricably linked. “It is no exaggeration to recognise that the status quo, which emerged after 1945, is now under enormous strain and fraying at the edges,” he said. “Numerous contemporary conflicts are becoming even more violent and intractable. Of particular concern to Australia is the rising tension in the South China Sea where our vital interests are directly engaged. The Pax Americana, through which the security of the global commons, as well as the stability of global financial markets rested, is now being contested.” The period of the so called “democratic peace” that followed the Cold War has evaporated, replaced by a global environment in which the use of force in pursuit of national, ethnic or religious motives has continued unabated. Introduction of the F-35A ‘Lightning II’ into service is regarded as pivotal in the transformation of the RAAF into an agile, network-enabled force. (Defence)
All the intelligence you need
IAI’s Advanced UAS Payloads. Delivering superior real-time ISR. • Detect, locate, classify and track targets • Multi-spectral E/O and SAR imaging: UAS SIGINT Payload
day & night, all weather • Flexible mission planning, management and re-tasking
Maritime Surveillance & SAR/GMTI Payload
Compact HF DF COMINT System
SEE US AT www.iai.co.il email@example.com
Australian Int’l Air Show 2015
“Military force is still the ultimate arbiter of disputes among nations,” AM Brown said. “Even so called non-traditional threats contribute to the greater risk of conventional war as massive migrations of people in pursuit of water or arable land take place, or as competition for scarce oil and gas reserves pits nation against nation as is occurring in the South China Sea.” From an historical viewpoint, many contemporary conflicts may be traced back to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which caused a seismic shift in the global order. “As the barbaric events in Ukraine last month demonstrated, a viable global order is still evolving in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Empire, and many analysts fear the Russian backlash against loss of its empire is just beginning,” AM Brown said. “Closer to home we are witnessing an intensification of strategic competition between our most significant security partner and our most valuable trading partner. The global balance of power for the remainder of the 21st Century may be resolved in our region over the next few decades. Our vital interests will be engaged and we must strive to ensure that the rise of China and its integration into the emerging North East Asian order is managed peacefully. Every significant security issue in North Asia is derived from interstate tension over borders and resources.” To meet the military challenges in a rapidly changing world the CAF points to the absolute necessity for Air Power to evolve, to provide Government with a full suite of options for securing Australia’s interests in this dynamic era. “I believe it is imperative that we take stock of our recent operational history and ensure that the Force Structure Review and the next Defence White Paper confront the world that is emerging rather than the era through which we have just passed. “Similarly, it is critical that the ADF transforms to operate new capabilities in the most effective way to deal with emerging challenges rather than how we have operated in the past. For Air Force, this transformation will be driven by Plan Jericho, which I will release early next year. “Plan Jericho aims to transform Air Force into an agile adaptive information age force. Too many of our structures from recruiting and
training of people through to designing and bringing systems into service are based on industrial age techniques. This must change. Over time I will detail how. “As events in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, and more recently in Libya, have revealed, it is possible to provide Government with a wider range of options, through the speed, reach and precision of air power in support of local ground forces. This reduces both our own costs and the political risk to our policy makers. “It is important for airmen to dispel some myths about air power, which have been allowed to proliferate since the1999 Kosovo campaign. I do not believe that either our Government or our people have much enthusiasm for long-term nation building operations away from our immediate region. And if one accepts that premise, air power provides our Government with multiple options for exerting coercive influence, or delivering precise blows or merely putting an adversary at risk in order to influence his behaviour; then it is obvious that air power must take its place at the centre of our national security strategy. Air Marshal Brown says that air and space power is fundamental to any military option, and that Air Force capabilities provide flexible and responsive options to Government within the four enduring roles of control of the air, strike, mobility and ISR. “In the majority of cases, such options would be within a balanced and integrated joint force that exploits the attributes of our land and naval forces. This has been the case over the past decade, but I believe will be even more relevant as we move into an era of rising potential confrontation. “Air power enhances every element of joint fighting power whether by joining up forces through our networks or providing information through our pervasive ISR capabilities.” With the next Defence White Paper expected to be released later this year Air Force will be putting forward its strongest case to build on the acquistions of combat platforms such as Super Hornet and the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and EA-18G Growler, supported by KC-30A air refuellers, E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and C-17A global airlifters – and of course P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and MQ-4 Triton high altitude unmanned surveillance
aircraft. But Air Force also needs to look towards the development of Space Power. “We have the main responsibility for the development of space power,” the CAF said. “The ADF simply cannot operate in any domain without untrammelled access to space. “With our adoption of a new mission of space situational awareness, sustaining access to space capabilities will become an even more pressing demand on airmen. Yet the average lay person could be forgiven for thinking that our recent military history has been written exclusively by ground forces. “Much of the discussion of our recent wars and operations since the deployment of INTERFET in 1999 has discounted the role of air power. So pervasive and uncontested has been our superiority across the third and fourth dimensions that our contribution has been too easily overlooked. To an extent, this has been the result of the recurrence of one of the perennial errors to which air power advocates are prone. “Ever since Giulio Douhet, air power advocates have enthused that we have been on the cusp of the magic bullet solution, which will allow us to defeat an adversary with a negligible commitment of ground forces. Throughout the relatively short history of the military use of the third dimension such claims have fallen short of reality. “This has led many critics to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and conclude that air power has failed. Yet careful scrutiny of the real lessons of history, especially the defeats of Germany and Japan in 1945 reveal that air power was decisive in both cases. The same is true of all of our recent operations as well. As recently as the aftermath of the First Gulf War, however, some air power enthusiasts allowed their enthusiasm to cloud their judgement. As spectacular as the success of Allied air power was in that war, and subsequently in the Balkan air campaigns of 1995 and 1999, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq in this century, no credible airman ever claimed that air power alone could win wars. “In certain circumstances, air power demonstrably had become the decisive arm. It was capable of shaping the scope, context and conduct of the joint campaign. Conventional ground forces cannot survive in a hostile air environment. Too many land power theorists ignore this reality.
An F/A-18F refuels from a KC-30A MRTT.
Aircrews are ‘human in the loop’ decision makers.
Crew of an E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ AEW&C
You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have an ordinary life. And when it comes to buying a home, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re no ordinary purchaser. ADCU DHOAS home loans provide special features that are tailored to suit your life and commitments. Find out more from a Mobile Banker today.
adcu.com.au | 1300 23 46 27 Image courtesy of the Department of Defence. Terms, conditions, fees, charges and lending criteria apply. Visit www.adcu.com.au/dhoas for more details. Australian Defence Credit Union Limited ABN 48 087 649 741 AFSL No. and Australian credit licence number 237 988.
AUSTRALIANairpower. Mission packages of coalition aircraft, network enabled and communicating securely are all elements of a distributed force increasing the precision, reach, responsiveness and persistence of the effects that Air Force can deliver.
It is vital that a capable air force aspires to possessing a technological edge – and the human factor provides essential tangible and intangible elements of air power.
“There is a dangerous myth afoot that the emergence of the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute a failure of air power, as the swift and decisive results of 1991 have not been replicated. Such analysis ignores the vital contribution of air power right across the spectrum even in irregular wars. In addition to close air support, which has inflicted massive casualties on our insurgent enemies, air power has been indispensable to the deployment and sustainment of our forces through replenishment and casualty evacuation. And the use of air and space ISR capabilities to dominate the electronic and cyber domains has conferred an extraordinary asymmetric advantage on our land forces.” Air Marshal Brown has concern that the tactics of enemies who chose to fight as irregulars and insurgents in recent conflicts may significantly influence force structure into the future, downplaying the effectiveness of air power against such tactics by forces that cannot match modern air platforms and weaponry; that air power has been integral to operational effectiveness in Iraq and Afghanistan will be discounted in favour of a notion that we need to prepare for a new form of warfare. “In my view, this is dangerously misguided for two fundamental reasons. First and foremost, it is based on flawed and very selective interpretation of the wars in which we have been engaged. Our enemies chose to fight as irregulars and insurgents because they dared not mass and risk annihilation by our space enabled air power. The rout of Saddam’s Armies in 1991 and the successive Balkans campaigns in 1990s demonstrated that the risk entailed in fighting advanced western air forces is simply unacceptable. Air power shaped the nature of our recent wars subtly and unobtrusively and also defined and constrained the battle space. It also was the most lethal element of fighting power we employed regardless of the apparently landcentric character of the campaigns. Secondly, apart from misinterpreting the past, it invites our policy makers to assume unacceptable risk as to the nature of future conflict. “Of late, the Islamic State insurgent forces in Iraq have concentrated and fought to occupy
urban centres and relied on road vehicle movement like any conventional force. While the insurgents were able to advance in the absence of an air power threat, the US introduction of a strike campaign in Sinjar demonstrated how decisive air power can be. We should never forfeit the massive psychological and kinetic advantage that air superiority confers upon us against such opponents.” AM Brown pointed to the analysis of ISIS tactics in Iraq by former Australian army officer David Kilcullen who has identified this change in the tactics of the Iraqi insurgents. He advocates the enhanced use of air power coordinated by Special Forces and indigenous land forces as the optimum response by Allied Forces (see David Kilcullen’s special report in this issue). “A permissive air domain, as has been the case in recent conflicts, is not something we can presume in future contingencies, or least not without unacceptable strategic risk. Credible air power capability has moved from a force enhancer, as may have been the case in the early days of military aviation, to an absolute necessity and a prerequisite for any form of manoeuvre. A credible capability in the air domain also brings strategic weight, which may help deter the prospect of conflict. Thus, I would argue that rumours of the demise of the state and of conventional war are premature. “I am asking the Government and the Australian people to support a balanced air force capable of rapid, scalable effects right across the spectrum of conflict. It will exploit the very latest technology available to us and it will be employed by a sophisticated, adaptive and resilient force of men and women who will provide us with our ultimate edge. Technology is essential to credible air power and the information age has exponentially enhanced our capabilities. “In an era of contingency, air power – more than ever before – provides the most rapid military response option to Governments whether in responding to a humanitarian emergency or coercing an adversary by exposing them to serious risk at long range and short notice, or by delivering rapid precision strike. These technologies have increased the precision, reach, responsiveness and persistence of the effects that Air Force can deliver. “The Air Force that we are in the process of developing over the next two decades will become more agile, to extend our reach, to hit harder with greater precision, to see much further more quickly and to disseminate this common operational picture throughout the joint force. Every platform that we are introducing, whether airborne early warning aircraft or airborne refuelling aircraft, contributes to the achievement of those concerted effects.
Air Marshal Brown regards the introduction of the 5th Generation F-35A Lightning II fighter as the most high profile element of the Air Force’s modernisation plan, but as formidable and transformative as the F-35 promises to be, the CAF doesn’t want public focus on the Joint Strike Fighter to become a distraction from the holistic and coherent nature of the Air Force’s strategic modernisation programme. “The JSF will exponentially enhance our air combat and strike capability, but its truly transformative impact on the ADF will depend on its ability to truly operate within a system of systems. My intention for this transformation is that the F-35, and other capabilities within the force, will be employed in a way that maximises our effectiveness. Introduction of the F-35 confers a tactical edge and considerable strategic weight to the Air Force. “There is a massive, qualitative leap from 4th or even 4.5th generation to 5th Generation aircraft, and the F-35 will be simply the ‘smartest’ and most agile aircraft ever to fly. It will provide us with a winning edge well into the future. And it brings versatility across numerous air power roles, performing them simultaneously. It can deliver precision strike while sweeping up copious amounts of information. “Indeed, one of the real challenges we will face across the ADF is to ensure that we adapt our joint systems to maximise the effects that the F-35 can deliver: by ‘joining up’ the joint maritime force, through providing kinetic strike and ISR options from theatre level, right down to an individual soldier on the ground. In conjunction with the Air Warfare Destroyers, the EA-18G Growler, our future Maritime Surveillance platforms and other force elements, our joint forces will be postured to achieve our maritime strategy in defence of Australia and its interests in our near approaches and further afield. “Getting our joint doctrine and our recruitment and training systems balanced to ensure that we can fully exploit this technology will be one of our most significant challenges. And of course space power will enable and enhance the entire system. “As the lead Service on ADF development of space power, Air Force is immersed in developing the capabilities and concepts to secure our national interests in this increasingly contested and congested domain. The entire ADF, indeed the entire nation, is increasingly dependent upon space.” Air Marshal Brown says that importantly the nation requires and needs a well balanced air force comprising a coherent mix of platforms, technologies and firepower – and that the main elements and platforms are already in service or on track to enter service. “This is a period of significant change in Air Force, as we transition to modern and highly capable new systems. As we receive the last of these platforms within the decade, we will need to move from transition to transformation, in which we adjust how we train, enable, support and operate, to ensure we are using our systems to best effect. “We are well on course to deliver a force that offers a wide range of policy options to our Government. Of course no discussion of our future would be complete without mentioning the most important element of the future air force; our people. I do not mention them last as an indication of their relative importance, but rather to pull together every element of what we aspire to do. That is what our people do. “As I mentioned earlier, it is vital that a capable air force aspires to possessing a technological edge – and the human factor provides essential tangible and intangible elements of air power. Whereas our people were important during our transition phase, they will be central to our transformation. Airmen enlisting next year may retire in the 2050s. The problems that they will be required to solve are beyond our imagination, just as the systems they will operate may not even yet exist. “Recruiting, training, educating and retaining the exceptional men and women that we will need to maintain our winning edge is actually one of our major institutional risks over time. That is why we have moved to implement measures to make us an employer of first choice. I am proud to lead these talented, skilled and resilient men and women.”
People rely on him every day. And he relies on us. With the field-proven ¸VCS-4G Rohde & Schwarz provides a voice communication system (VCS) that meets today‘s needs of area control centers, airport towers and emergency systems: ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
Fully IP-based Decentralized Scalable Pay-as-you-grow solution EUROCAE ED137 Stay a step ahead with the ATC solutions from Rohde & Schwarz – from the microphone to the antenna. www.rohde-schwarz.com/ad/atc/atm
Visit us at AVALON 2015 Stand 1L11 - 24 February - 1 March www.airshow.com.au
Next Generation Bomber – Secret aerospace program of the century
The US Air Force needs a new generation strike bomber to augment the B-2 ‘Spirit’ stealth bomber (above) and its B-1 fleet. (US Air Force)
During 2015 the US Air Force will select the prime contractor to build its next generation bomber to replace the B-52 fleet and possibly a portion of the B-1 fleet under a project worth a massive $50 billion. The target unit price for each new bomber has been set at $550 million for 80 - 100 stealthy aircraft capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons, with the option for manned and unmanned types. The aim is for initial operating capability to be achieved in the mid-2020s.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reaffirmed mid-January that the nuclear mission is as important as ever to the US, and he strongly supported the case for the new Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B). “I think the Long-Range Strike Bomber is absolutely essential for keeping our deterrent edge; we need to do it,” Hagel told reporters at Whiteman Air Force Base, home of the B-2 ‘Spirit’ stealth bomber. “We need to make the investments. We’ll have it in the budget. It’s something I have put a priority on.” While Hagel has resigned, replaced by his former deputy Ashton Carter, the strength of support for the LRS-B will drive the program forward, although sceptics say that Air Force is hedging its bets: supporting the LRS-B as a potential sacrificial project if severe military cuts are forthcoming. This seems unlikely given the urgent need to replace the legacy bomber platforms. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has thrown her weight behind the program, saying recently, “When we roll out the FY16
budget, the budget line will be similar to 2015 projected into 2016. We’re on track for our [LRS-B] competition; it remains a top priority and it is truly the future of our bomber force.” While the program continues to be shrouded in secrecy most analysts agree that the LRS-B, or ‘B-3’, could shape the future for combat aircraft acquisition in the US over the coming decades, as it is the biggest single aerospace program by a long way.
High stakes for Defence companies With the stakes so high, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have teamed together against Northrop Grumman, manufacturer of the B-2. While Northrop Grumman has an edge with its B-2 bomber development – with the Air Force wanting to use mature, available-now technologies to keep the flyaway cost down – Lockheed Martin’s experience with F-22 ‘Raptor’ and F-35 ‘Lightning II’ teamed with Boeing (F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet, F-15, B-52) present a formidable opposition.
Lockheed Martin’s F-22B was put forward as a candidate for the ‘2018 Bomber’ program. A version evolved from the type could be the Boeing/Lockheed Martin contender for the Long-Range Strike Bomber program.
However, Northrop has greater depth of experience in stealth for high flying bomber aircraft, with the B-2, whereas both F-22 and F-35 low observables are in the mid/upper radar bands. The new bomber will need to defeat low band radars, as NG had to contend with in designing the B-2 stealth capabilities. The level of secrecy that pervades every aspect of the program extends to the broad concept design criteria, the aircraft performance metrics, and the weapons payload: will it be a flying wing or a conventional aircraft shape, which is important in terms of “mature technologies available now”; what are the stealth versus payload tradeoffs; and can it be stationed outside the US if it has highly classified onboard systems? Setting a unit flyaway price upfront may keep the US Congress onside, given its concerns with F-35 and other major program cost over-runs, but it has implications for platform capabilities, and it is certainly at odds with the proven strategy of identifying capability need first and then costing that capability. There is concern that the lowest cost option may not be the best one in terms of technology level, potential for growth and agility in roles to meet emerging threats. There’s also conjecture that the bomber may be further along its development cycle than publicly declared, perhaps leveraging off the ‘2018 Bomber’ program cancelled in 2009. Researchers have noted a spike in the projected budget for the LRS-B program, from $260 million in 2013 to a projected $3.4 billion in 2019, which begs the question of whether prototypes of the new bomber are already flying.
For these three major US defence companies the stakes are extremely high, as opportunities for major new combat aircraft builds after LRS-B may very well depend on who wins the LRS-B contract. The next new fighter is expected to come into service in the 2030s and the next bomber sometime later; and that’s a long way out for Northrop Grumman if it loses the LRS-B contract, whereas Lockheed Martin has its F-35 production line humming, and Boeing is scrambling to keep its Super Hornet production line going. If NG wins it may spread the US Air Force’s major combat aircraft programs more evenly across three companies, but this begs the question as to whether there is enough work ahead to sustain combat aircraft production by all three companies. The teaming of two traditionally intense rivals, in Boeing and Lockheed Martin, may give a clue as to the future of major aerospace programs in the US.
Operational need and rationale Undoubtedly, the US Air Force urgently needs a new long range bomber. Even with a multitude of upgrades, including the ability to launch cruise missiles, the B-52 fleet is old by any standard. The Cold War jet is increasingly difficult and expensive to keep flying, and just doesn’t measure up as a modern bomber with high survivability. The B-2 program aimed to fix that problem, with Air Force wanting 132 built to replace the 1960s B-52, but only 21 were built and with an horrendous price tag of $US2.2 billon each. This cost is skewed, however, as the actual Unit Procurement Cost was around $500 million but the touted $2.2 billion dollar price tag includes the huge R&D cost to develop most of the basic technology in the B-2, then assigned to only 21 airframes. For its part, Lockheed Martin has some history with its FB-22 design – a medium bomber version of the F-22 Raptor fighter – featuring a delta wing, longer body and greater range and payload. Unfortunately, the FB-22 only progressed to design studies. The FB-22 was put forward as a candidate for the ‘2018 Bomber’ program, the US Air Force’s requirement for an interim bomber until the entry into service of a future bomber planned for 2037. The stealth strike bomber in the FB-111 class featured a lengthened fuselage with a larger internal weapons bay, larger delta wing and greater range out to 1,600 nautical miles. The power plant for the FB-22 was to be a modified F-22A F119-PW-100, tweaked so it could supercruise for hours at a maximum speed of Mach 1.92. The FB-22 was cancelled very early in the development cycle, to free up funding for Counter Insurgency (COIN) programs; however, the possibility is there that the mothballed F-22 production line could be started up again if an FB-22 variant became a viable option.
The Cold War era B-52 ‘Stratofortress’ has been upgraded over the past 50 years, including the capability to launch cruise missiles but it needs to be replaced over the next decade. (US Air Force)
AUSTRALIANairpower. Clockwise from left: B-1B strategic bomber entered service in the 1990s Aircraft such as China’s J-20 long range strike fighter pose greater threat to US strike bombers. B-52 in modern-day grey livery, capable of carrying cruise missiles and smart bombs but remains an ageing jet of the Cold War and Vietnam War eras.
The ultimate aim is for a bomber with advanced sensors and future electronic warfare solutions, including but not totally reliant on networkenabled battle management, command and control, and virtual warfare simulation and experimentation.
Analysts say that had the FB-22 been built it would not only have been an excellent acquisition but would have given Air Force the experience and technology base for a B-2 replacement. From a operational perspective the new bomber would need to combine stealth with the ability to loiter on station then respond rapidly to threats as they unfold, essentially a ‘’penetrate, persist, and attack’ role. Deployment of cruise missiles is another issue for the new bomber, as current Arms Treaties provide for carriage of the missile on the B-52 only – although this may be a moot point, given that the Russians didn’t ‘play the game’ with START2 and are showing similar signs with START3. Payload limit on the new bomber is another question being asked. There is speculation that the LRS-B may be smaller than the B-2, perhaps half the size, powered by two engines in the F-135 power class, again fuelling speculation that the fixed price may compromise the bomber’s capabilities, by producing the lowest cost plane but with not enough consideration of payload, range and combat performance.
Technology, Firepower and Survivability It is known that the design will incorporate a “family of systems” approach that includes ISR, electronic attack and communication systems. Initial design would be around
fixed requirements, with technologies that are adaptable through open architecture and allowing future development of sensor and weapons capabilities through block upgrades. A ‘family of systems’ is the notion that a wide variety of external sources – such as other strike package elements, satellites, surveillance aircraft, as well as ships and land forces – can all transmit battle relevant information to attack aircraft, increasing their situational awareness to press the attack. However, this ‘ideal world’ is dependent upon a relatively benign electronic warfare environment, so any credible air power projection strategy would also need to have the capability to operate ‘alone and unafraid’, relying mostly on onboard situational awareness capability to press the attack and survive. The ultimate aim therefore is for a bomber with advanced sensors and future electronic warfare solutions, including but not totally reliant on network-enabled battle management, command and control, and virtual warfare simulation and experimentation. The idea of an unmanned option for the LRS-B is tenuously experimental at best, given the level of threat out there against such a high value target as a strategic attack bomber. While UAVs such as MQ-1 Predator have the persistence and agility for precision attacks against pinpoint targets in a low threat
environment, the idea of a ‘bomb truck’ LRS-B (controlled remotely) going into harms way against an enemy with sophisticated air defence systems, seems fanciful in terms of the need for ‘human in the loop’ decision making. Indeed, establishing jam resistant, two-way communications links in and out of sophisticated combat platforms remains an unsolved problem. From a command perspective the LRS-B squadrons will come under Global Strike Command, which has indicated a requirement for the bomber to carry a weapon of similar effect to the existing Massive Ordnance Penetrator. To enable a multi-role capability, modular payload options for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; electronic attack and datalink communications are also on the drawing board. The bomber is to be nuclear capable, but will not be certified for the role until the older bomber types are set to retire, probably two years after Initial Operating Capability is declared. Of particular concern to Defence planners is that over the next decade the legacy B-52 and B-1 fleets could come under threat from new generation fighters such as China’s J-20 stealth fighter, which adds the advantages of 5th generation combat aircraft features such as stealth and supercruise. Air Force also says that the LRS-B is a top priority, as it is believed that China will overcome the B-2’s low-observable features by the 2020s. Additionally, the new Russian Su-35S
FLANKER and the Su-50 PAK-FA offer sophisticated radars, modern Infrared Search & Track, plus supersonic cruise against lower capability legacy platforms (B-52 and B-1). An even bigger threat is the new generation of long range Russian SAMs such as the S-400 and S-300V4 that can shoot missiles out to 400 km range, and supporting low band counter-stealth radars like the Nebo M. The Russians are also working on the A-100 AWACS with a UHF band counter-stealth radar fitted. This is compounded by improved Russian and Chinese digital radar processing, allowing them to hit very low flying targets. When the B-3 comes into service Chinese and Russian platforms will have matured significantly, as will their export variants, placing even greater importance on technological and performance superiority over cost imperatives for the LRS-B.
Production Issues That the US is seeking to build its new bomber using proven technologies indicates a wider issue confronting world powers in planning for engagement in disparate conflicts – and that is whether long acquisition and development timeframes can keep pace with rapidly changing threat environments, and new warfighting strategies. Persistent, precision strike using network-enabled battle management down to cockpit level is the current thinking; however, the current operation in Iraq and Syria against ISIS forces demonstrates that a disproportionate air power response is needed to effectively neutralise an organised force employing
asymmetric warfighting tactics. This remains a vexed question, and one not easily answered. The United States in particular has to grapple with the critical need to spend its Defence dollar effectively – as platforms, weapons and technologies are escalating rapidly in capital cost and ongoing sustainment costs. The financial investment per platform is growing almost exponentially, and obtaining approvals from the US Congress for such larger and larger Defence budgets is becoming more difficult. Insofar as Defence industry is concerned, whichever aircraft company wins the new bomber contract will obviously reap big rewards, but more importantly will likely to be the sole survivor in the combat aircraft manufacturing business. Northrop Grumman in particular would be hard-pressed to survive any further long periods of enforced ‘hibernation’ of their design and development teams. Looking at the practicalities of introducing the B-3 into service in the stipulated timeframe, observers wonder whether the two contenders already have prototypes well along the developmental process. Under normal circumstances the contenders would wait for Air Force ‘money on the table’ to produce prototypes that would engage in a flyoff competition. But is there time for a flyoff, if Air Force intends selecting its prime contractor this year. Will this be a desk exercise, using virtual modelling of bomber solutions put forward by the contenders? Surely not. So, the circumstantial evidence points to some development of prototypes
already underway; otherwise, how can Air Force decide between the two contenders? Time is definitely of the essence. Given the protracted development of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, for example, the new bomber prototype would almost have to be already flying if the Air Force’s requirement that the new bomber be ready in the 2020s is to be met. After almost 20 years this next generation stealth fighter has only just entered service with the US Air Force, and countries such as Australia are at least three years away from getting their first tranche in-country, and Full Operational Capability at least two years after that. All things considered, the US Air Force desperately needs the LRS-B program to go ahead with some urgency to produce a bomber that will counter the threat of the 2020s decade, and also lead to a B-2 replacement in the 2030s. The resulting impact on major aerospace industry giants in the US will be interesting to observe. Post B-3, which companies continue to produce combat aircraft and which company/s do not may very well depend on this aerospace program of the century.
Clockwise from top left: F-22A ‘Raptor’ air superiority stealth fighter. Nebo-M low-band Stealth Air Target Early Warning Radar. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Beriev A-100 Russian-built airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft based on the Il-76MD-90A (Il-476) transport.
Impact of OKRA on ADF future
Four F/A-18F Super Hornets deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE on a Combat Air Patrol mission with an E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. (Defence)
In early October 2014 an integrated force of Air Force Super Hornets along with an E-7A surveillance aircraft and a KC-30A air-refueller began combat operations over Iraq as part of the ADF’s ‘Operation OKRA’ conducting air attacks against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This was an historic campaign, as it marked the first time that the RAAF had deployed an indigenous force overseas to conduct sustained combat operations.
The Australian Air Task Group (ATG) at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates is equally capable of operating both autonomously and seamlessly within a coalition of allied air forces. RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets are carrying out precision strike missions against ISIL ground targets, supported by the KC-30A and coalition tankers and the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. RAAF C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules airlifters also support the ATG, and have carried out humanitarian and relief flights within Iraq as well. With no end in sight to the air campaign over Iraq and Syria the ATG is likely to remain in the Middle East at least for months to come, with a scheduled rotation of ADF personnel soon. This raises questions as to whether Air Force can sustain fighter and support operations for an indefinite period, and what are the likely consequences on man and machine.
Deployment and Operations In-Theater
French Air Force Rafale fighter pilot waits to refuel from a tanker over Iraq.
In Mid-September Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia would deploy aircraft and up to 400 RAAF support personnel and 200 ground troops, including Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), to the Middle East. Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, said at that time that the decision had not been taken lightly.
“Disrupting and degrading ISIL will take a comprehensive and sustained effort from the international community,” the CDF said. ”If we do nothing, we risk allowing the shocking acts of ISIL to further destabilise the Middle East region and to spread beyond, where it will pose a greater threat to Australians.” Six Super Hornets from 1 Squadron and two KC-30As from 33 Squadron departed Amberley for Pearce on September 21, where they were joined by an E-7A from 2 Squadron at Williamtown. The group departed Australia the following day and after an overnight stop on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, arrived at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on September 24. The KC-30A and E-7A flew their first operational missions over Iraq on October 1 in support of coalition forces while awaiting Australian Government approval for strike operations. The Wedgetail was airborne over central Iraq while the KC-30A was available for use by coalition fighters, but in the event it was not required. Prime Minister Abbott announced on October 3 that, following a National Security Council meeting, Cabinet (acting on a request from the Iraqi Government), had finally authorised strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. The first combat operation was flown by two Super Hornets on the night of October 5, with an air interdiction and close air support mission over northern Iraq, supported by the
NEW TOOLS FOR NEW RULES
Visit us at AUSTRALIAN INT'L AIR SHOW 2015
Training for Mission Superiority
Hall 1, Booth 1F6
Modern combat challenges, where Joint Air, Ground and Naval operations are critical to success, are met with our Integrated Live Virtual Constructive advanced technologies. We offer tailor-made solutions for all your training requirements, designed with the unique input of our combat experts, all aimed at providing the tools to train as you fight. Training Superiority - the sure path to Mission Superiority
AUSTRALIANairpower. clockwise from far left: Wingman’s view of the lead Super Hornet positioning behind a US Air Force KC-10A tanker during a mission over Iraq. (Defence) US Air Force B-1B bomber. Weapons System Operator onboard a RAAF Super Hornet ready for takeoff. Royal Air Force GR4 Tornado strike fighter, part of the Coalition force conducting strike missions into Iraq.
Wedgetail and KC-30A, however no targets were allocated and the aircraft returned with their weapons to Al Minhad. The RAAF Super Hornets have to work within Australia’s sovereign rules of engagement but overall control of coalition operations over Iraq is entrusted to the US Central Command’s Combined Air Space Operations Centre. The ATG first used live weapons on the night of October 8 when two bombs were dropped by a Super Hornet on an ISIL facility. The air strikes are intended to target ISIL’s means of transportation, command and control (C²) nodes, logistics and supply centres and heavy equipment. In Iraq this has so far included coalition strikes against heavy earthmoving equipment which ISIL has been using to build (and subsequently repair) berms to divert water from the Fallujah Dam outside Baghdad. In Syria, air strikes have also been made by coalition fighters against mobile oil rigs, which are a major source of ISIL income. “Australia, the Coalition and the 60 partner nations are maintaining strategic momentum and denying ISIL’s freedom of movement and their ability to amass forces and conduct resupply of their fighters in the field,” a Defence spokesperson noted in late November. “Australian aircraft together with their coalition partners continue to target ISIL’s means of transportation, heavy equipment, command and control nodes, and their logistic supply centres, which is degrading and disrupting them.” The air campaign in Iraq continued unabated and by the end of November, the Super Hornets had released weapons on 47 occasions. Up until that time the F/A-18F aircraft had also flown a cumulative total of 127 sorties, accruing a cumulative total of 979.3 flying hours.
In support of both ATG and coalition strike operations the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport remaining in theatre (the second aircraft returned to Australia after supporting the initial deployment to Al Minhad), had flown 53 air to air refuelling sorties and offloaded 4,101,287 lbs (1860 tonnes) of fuel. Total flying hours for the single aircraft over the period between October 1 and November 30 was 420 hours. The E-7A Wedgetail had flown a total of 33 missions and 414.6 flying hours over the period, and it is also worth noting that the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group remains significantly involved. In the last week of November, for example, the C-130J Hercules deployed to Al Minhad to support ADF operations in the region, including Afghanistan, and had conducted four airdrop humanitarian aid missions. During this mission more than 32 tonnes of food, water, tents and blankets were delivered to Iraqis sheltering in the Mt Sinjar region. This was the sixth air drop mission since air operations commenced in Iraq.
Benefits of OKRA The capability of the Australian Air Task Group to operate both autonomously as well as within a coalition force provides the RAAF with a wealth of experience, and is an indication of how well the integrated force practices have evolved. “The Australian Air Task Group is a highly sophisticated, self-sufficient network of aircraft and personnel,” the Defence Spokesperson noted. “This self-sufficiency allows the ATG elements to work together on the same mission; however, they are not co-dependent. This is because the Air Task Group is fully integrated into a multi-national Coalition environment.” Because the various Australian force elements are fully integrated into the multi-national effort they can (and have) undertaken
missions independently from other Australian aircraft. For example, Defence says that the Super Hornets strike missions are regularly refuelled by USAF KC-135 and KC-10A tanker aircraft. Although the KC-30A’s Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) is still not certified for operations and the probe and drogue system was only cleared for use by F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets and Super Hornets when the ATG first deployed, a contingency clearance for US Navy and Marines Hornets (F/A-18A through to EA-18G Growler), Grumman EA-6B Prowlers and Boeing AV-8B Harriers, RAF Panavia Tornados and BAE Systems Typhoons and French Air Force Dassault Rafale F.1s was obtained. French Air Force Rafales were the first foreign aircraft to receive fuel from the KC-30A when two aircraft successfully tanked over Iraq during a mission on October 3. To date the Rafales, United States Marine Corps Harriers and a number of F/A-18 variants from Canada and the United States (USMC and Navy) have successfully received fuel from the KC-30A. Operations in Iraq have accelerated development of the KC-30A significantly and, because the Royal Air Force (Voyager) and the Air Forces of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (A330 MRTT) are operating essentially the same aircraft in the region, there is a wealth of experience to share. From an operational perspective, RAAF crews are also gaining valuable experience planning and leading coalition operations. “To illustrate the level of integration, ATG Super Hornets have been allocated the mission command role for a number of major air strikes which have included up to five other nations,” the Defence spokesperson explained. “During these missions, coalition nation aircraft have included air-to-air refuellers, command and control aircraft and strike aircraft.”
RAAf KC-30A MRTT in formation with two F/A-18F Super Hornets of No 1 Squadron. (Defence)
The E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C platform is also regularly assigned control of battle management areas that encompass the majority of the airspace above Iraq. “Within this large area, the E-7A is responsible for the control of all Coalition aircraft, regardless of country, the allocation of airborne refuelling assets and the coordination of military aircraft operations with civilian Air Traffic Control agencies,” the spokesperson added. “The E-7A aircraft also provides a crucial communication link between combat aircraft, mission controllers and coordinating elements.” The Wedgetail is now demonstrating high levels of system reliability & maturity after a protracted development period and is regularly undertaking missions over Iraq that last from 12 to 14 hours and can support multiple strike operations if required. “The Wedgetail could arguably be described as the most integrated air asset of the Air Task Group owing to the very nature of its role and time it spends airborne in support of Coalition aircraft,” Defence noted.
Long Term Consquences To put the ADF commitment into perspective: from a platform point of view alone, one quarter of the Super Hornet force is conducting sustained combat operations 12,000 km (6475 nautical miles) from home base. Similarly, one sixth of the RAAF’s Wedgetails and KC-30As are deployed to the UAE. In addition, a 12,000 km supply chain for multiple platform types is challenging,
French Air Force Rafale fighter, part of the Coalition force conducting air strikes agains ISIS forces.
over long periods of time, and will also keep a percentage of the RAAF’s transport fleet engaged on support operations. The amount of operational flying also has to be monitored closely, in terms of aircrew fatique plus training and development aspects having to be managed concurrent with long-term operations. The ADF as a whole and the RAAF in particular is no stranger to these factors, having supported deployments of AP-3C Orions and C-130H/J Hercules to the Middle East for more than a decade. However, fast-jet combat operations add a further dimension. From an aircraft fatigue point of view, Defence says that it does not foresee any problems. “We expect there will be no significant impact on the fatigue life or longer-term management of the Super Hornet fleet. The six aircraft deployed are flying longer individual missions than those at RAAF Base Amberley but the Operation Okra sortie profiles are typically lower fatigue profiles. “Defence’s Aircraft Structural Integrity Agency is monitoring and modelling any profile changes and will provide advice on any changes to inspections or servicing for the longer term. “The Super Hornet maintenance regime is, for the most part, linked to calendar time rather than based on the number of hours flown, so the six aircraft currently deployed to Al Minhad are unaffected by the flying rate.” RAAF technicians are performing routine ‘R1’ servicing, based on flying hours, in-theatre and there are no currently plans to swap aircraft with those remaining at Amberley.
From an aircrew perspective things are a little more complicated, as there are many training and development ‘events’ which have to be completed for the crews to remain current. Some of their skills are relatively perishable and must be exercised regularly. An example of this was during the Cold War when RAF Tornado crews returning to the UK from a tour in the Falkland Islands were considered ‘dangerous’ until their skills were honed to the level whereby they could again safely conduct missions in an intensive NATO environment. “The investment in training made over many years, including international exercises, has brought each of the elements of the Air Task Group up to a very high state of readiness and professional confidence,” the Defence spokesperson said by way of explanation. “The operational flying is providing the crews with significant experience, and is honing their skills even further. Upon their return they will resume the ‘category and currency’ training program with emphasis on any roles for which they have had limited ‘recency’.” Defence also notes that although the deployment did initially affect training and exercises, for example, Air Combat Group did not participate in the Recent ‘Bersama Lima’ exercise in Malaysia, the majority of exercise activities are proceeding as planned. Crews are expected to be rotated through the Middle East area of operations soon, depending on the length of Air Force’s commitment to Operation Okra, but Defence declines to make public the number and length of such rotations.
RAAF armament fitters upload HE bombs to an F/A-18F Super Hornet. (Defence)
F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ fully armed during a combat air patrol over Iraq. (US Air Force)
RAAF’s Wedgetail AEW&C takes off
Beset by years of delays in its development cycle, the E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ AEW&C aircraft is now showing impressive capability in the role. (Defence)
On 1 October 2014 the RAAF’s Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft flew its first operational sortie over central Iraq in support of coalition air operations against ISIS forces. The Wedgetail from No 2 Squadron, part of the RAAF’s Air Task Group, operated out of Al Minhad air base, near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Its mission was to manage airspace, coordinate air traffic and de-conflict allied aircraft movements, as tasked by the regional Combined Air Operations Centre. The aircraft has continued with 10-11 hour missions almost daily, supporting the air offensive. This first operational deployment of the Wedgetail marks the end of a long journey that began almost 30 years ago. This first operational sortie in itself was unremarkable but it was the culmination of a turbulent developmental process.
From Concept to Entering Service The reason the RAAF wanted an AEW&C aircraft relates to radar being the primary modern air defence sensor, and the physics of the transmission of radar waves. A radar antenna located at high altitude, as on a AEW&C aircraft, can detect and track low altitude aircraft at long range. A surface- based antenna can typically detect an aircraft flying down to 200 ft above the ground at about 35km but an antenna on an AEW&C aircraft at an altitude of 30,000ft can potentially detect aircraft at ranges exceeding 400km. This early warning is important in terms of reaction time. In the first case, against a strike aircraft flying at 600kts, the air defences have 2.5 minutes to react. With an AEW&C, the defences have 25 minutes to react. This considerably earlier detection enables more time to take defensive measures, including launching ground alert fighter aircraft and accurately cueing surface based surface-toair missile and gun systems. The key issue though is ‘potentially’. The technology to detect low flying targets against a high clutter ground background was not proven operationally reliable until the 1980s. Accordingly, in 1986 the RAAF began evaluating industry proposals concerning airborne surveillance and early warning systems. These proposals ranged from the proven Boeing E-3 AWACS aircraft to the eventually failed Nimrod AEW&C aircraft.
No one contender met Australia’s needs in terms of radar performance, being able to operate at long range, requiring only limited maintenance support, and being available at an affordable price. Accordingly, the Government decided to develop and build an entirely new AEW&C airborne system, initially a fleet of four AEW&Cs followed by an additional two or three aircraft. In 1998, Defence Initial Design Activity (IDA) issued contracts valued at some $A9m each to Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Raytheon Systems. This funding allowed each company over the following year to significantly refine their proposals in terms of capabilities, cost and schedule, and it gave Defence greater confidence in the technical aspects. In July 1999, the Boeing Company was announced as the preferred tenderer for the project. The first aircraft was to be delivered in November 2006 and the fourth in August 2007. The A$2.63bn Wedgetail acquisition fixed price contract signed with Boeing covered the four modified aircraft, two additional mission system sets, associated support systems and facilities. A further $800 million was budgeted for logistics support, facilities, Government Furnished Materiel, and contingencies. One of the most technically challenging, leading-edge projects Australia has ever been involved with was off and running but it faced a tough road ahead.
The Wedgetail platform was based on the Boeing 737-700 commercial airliner heavily modified to include a new highly advanced but unproven radar system, a new stateof-the-art electronic warfare suite, and a complex communication system. These new technology systems were integrated into a sophisticated mission computing, data management and command and control system. Not surprisingly, a completed AEW&C aircraft is valued at more than five times the cost of an unmodified Boeing 737700 aircraft. The most technically challenging element was the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. Unlike the in-service USAF Boeing E-3 AWACS that used a rotating radar antenna, the Wedgetail aircraft uses a fixed antenna that scans electronically. The L-band (1 to 2 GHz) MESA radar is located on a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage, dubbed the “top hat.” Through using several carefully placed side, back and front emitting arrays that feed data into some complex processing software, the overall radar system gives a complete 360° coverage. This means that the radar antennas provide both a normal radar picture but also passively detect radar transmissions at long range. Used actively, and transmitting, the radar is capable of picking up high altitude aircraft at some 600km, low-flying aircraft in excess of 370km, track 180 targets simultaneously and conduct 24 intercepts. Used passively as an electronic surveillance array, the system can detect other radars transmitting at some 850 km distant. The project began with structural modifications to the aircraft followed by work on the challenging avionic and electronic components. All seemed to be going well in 2004, after a positive assessment by Defence and the National Audit Agency, so the Government contracted for an additional two aircraft, bringing the fleet to six. Severe problems though suddenly became apparent when the full-up Wedgetail aircraft with its new MESA radar fitted began radar flighttesting. The radar demonstrated poor performance in several modes including when used against low flying aircraft, the main reason for acquiring an AEW&C aircraft. Consistently detecting and tracking aircraft flying at low altitude overland, against strong background clutter, proved problematic. There were also concerns over the Electronic Surveillance Measure (ESM) system being developed by BAES in Australia, and with the overall mission system computing stability. For a time, the mission system was crashing and needing rebooting every two-three hours when airborne. So began a series of project reviews, replanning and cascading delays. In early 2007 when the first few aircraft should have been delivered, Boeing advised of a ‘two-year slip in the program’ and devised a new developmental plan. Then in May 2008, Boeing advised a further delay to the program again resulting principally from problems with the radar and ESM system maturity. In June 2008, Boeing
advised Defence of a “further schedule delay of 10 months to the delivery of the first fully mission capable aircraft.” There were growing doubts the radar and the aircraft would ever meet expectations. Worried by events, in December 2008 Boeing and Defence agreed to enter into a test and evaluation program to determine the extent to which the aircraft system met the specification and how well it performed in real-world operational circumstances. The Defence Materiel Organization, Boeing and Northrop Grumman – with the support of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and some US Government agencies – cooperated in an independent assessment of the radar’s performance. This was conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratories and aimed to determine the extent of the performance shortfall based on actual flight test data. As part of this, an operational utility demonstration was conducted in Australia in April-May 2009 during Exercise Arnhem. In November 2009, Boeing and Defence reached a formal commercial agreement for a way ahead with the program that included allowance for the project delays, an agreed incremental delivery schedule and decided on the compensation for projected performance shortfalls. This all seemed promising but again it was not to be. Boeing strived to deliver the initial aircraft in the so-called final operational capability configuration in December 2010, then with more radar and ESM problems delayed this until March 2012, and then in July 2012 delayed this again. In September 2012, seemingly sensing a project that would never end, Defence and Boeing entered into contract negotiations seeking a final commercial settlement covering compensation for the continuing delays and residual performance shortfalls. The parties reached agreement in November 2012 resulting in the acceptance of all major systems being achieved by end 2012. The aircraft would be accepted as they were, remaining problems
photos (top to bottom) E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ crew boards the aircraft for a mission over Iraq. RAAF pilots on the flightdeck of an E-7A Wedgetail. Sensor operators view flight tracks of aircraft during training in Australia. Internal layout of the ‘Wedgetail’ cabin showing sensor stations and operators. Sensor operators of No 2 Squadron, which is homebased at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, NSW. (Defence photos)
AUSTRALIANairpower. and all. At last Wedgetail was delivered albeit more than five years later than originally planned. This sorry contractual saga though hides the fact that real progress had been made. Problems with the radar and ESM system were worked on, and significant progress made. A radar remediation program began in 2009 that included a collaborative R&D program. A contract for this 18-month collaborative work, the AEW&C Radar Collaborative Study, was signed in June 2010. The program involving Boeing, Northrop Grumman (working with Canberra company CEA Technologies) and DSTO was surprisingly successful and it was extended. The Australian National Audit Office approvingly noted that “radar performance in the clear has been recovered to very close to specification and substantial improvement in performance in clutter is anticipated by December 2013.” Each successive system software build delivered and installed into the aircraft fleet demonstrated improved performance, including during some demanding local and overseas exercises. Such progress allowed the Chief of Air Force to finally declare Initial Operational Capability in November 2012. The project has delivered all six E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and the associated ground and support systems. Work is now concentrated on delivering the last logistics support elements, finalising the radar performance remediation program and addressing software deficiencies in the ESM, communications subsystem and the mission computing. Once this work is completed, the Final Operational Capability status will be considered achieved. This is expected
to occur later this year. The key remaining risk identified by Defence is “the timely integration of required software updates to the operational aircraft….” Interestingly, this final step will be made not by Boeing in Seattle but by the RAAF’s in-service software organisation at Williamtown, which is rapidly developing some impressive capabilities. The Australian chapter of the Wedgetail project has been overlooked somewhat but in several areas Australian industry has made important contributions. Two standouts are the aircraft modification program and the emerging software maintenance and development capability.
Australia’s largest Aircraft Modification Program The project initially intended to modify most of the Boeing 737 aircraft into the Wedgetail configuration in Australia. The contract signed in 2000 however, was for only four aircraft. Given such small numbers, the idea appeared not cost-effective. In 2004 two more aircraft were ordered and so the decision was made to modify the first two aircraft at Boeing Seattle and the remaining four in Australia. The modifications involved four of the project’s new-build Boeing 737-700s being flown from the US to RAAF Amberley where they were outfitted by Boeing Australia. The AEW&C program manager at Boeing Aerospace Support Centre (BASC) noted that: “Getting to terms with the scope and scale of the program was a challenge…” Modifying each aircraft involved more than 100,000 hours of work per aircraft. The work
involved major structural modifications to the exterior and interior of the aircraft. These included the removal of a large part of the upper fuselage (Section 46) and its replacement with a reinforced section upon which to rest the radar, installing the 3 tonne MESA radar on the top of the rear fuselage, fitting ventral fins, installing ten mission system consoles, and modifying the fuel system for air-to-air refuelling. All this involved high precision work with the highly accurate positioning of structural, system and mission related components essential. For this, BASC installed new laser-tracking equipment into Hangar 410 at RAAF Base Amberley to establish a digital reference frame that allowed exact alignment without physical tooling or fixtures. The first aircraft arrived from Boeing Seattle in January 2006 for modification, rolling out some two years later and undergoing its first 2.5 hour functional check flight on 24 January 2008. This and a second check light verified the airworthiness of the aircraft’s systems and structures before the aircraft flew back to Boeing Seattle for further modification and test work. The next two flew in January 2009, the fourth and final aircraft in early 2010. This remains the largest and most complex modification program ever undertaken in Australia. The production line at its peak employed some 170 technicians, engineering and support staff. Modifying the four aircraft increased Australian industry involvement by some $80 million with a further $75 million worth of associated export work and three technology transfer programs worth $24 million.
Building Software Wedgetail is very much a software driven aircraft, with several millions lines of code. As the launch customer, the RAAF realised that it needed to have both a good understanding of the Wedgetail aircraft’s software and also an ability to modify it to meet ever changing operational requirements. This makes Wedgetail unique in the RAAF’s future combat line-up, as the other aircraft have their software completely maintained and updated overseas. Complete reliance on offshore agencies is seen by some as costeffective in terms of splitting costs amongst several users but it means that the RAAF’s new requirements are in competition against others, including those of the principal users, either the US Air Force or the US Navy. This means that even small software changes that are solely for the RAAF may be rather protracted and can be somewhat costly. As part of the Wedgetail project an AEW&C Support Centre (ASC) was built at RAAF Williamtown. The ASC houses the AEW&C Support Facility (ASF) that provides Australia with an indigenous through-life support capability to develop and implement mission system enhancements and modifications for Front-on view of the E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ showing the ‘surfboard’ configuration of the Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. (Defence)
BANK Based on the B737 commercial airframe, the first E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ rolled out after two years of modification work at RAAF Base Amberley. (Defence)
the entire Wedgetail weapon system. This includes software changes to the aircraft as well as the key ground support segments: the Operational Flight Trainer, the Operational Mission Simulator, the Mission Support
Segment and the ASF itself The ASF undertakes both ongoing software maintenance and the development of particular mission system software within or connected to the Radar/IFF, the mission computing, the communications systems, the navigation systems, the ESM, and the electronic warfare self-protection. The ASF does not, however, maintain or change any of the flight-safety critical software. Such software is supported by Boeing as the aircraft’s overall design authority with airworthiness certification managed by the US Federal Aviation Authority. Even so, the ASF does do some quality assurance on new aircraft flight-safety critical software loads to ensure there is no undesired interaction between this and the unique Australian Wedgetail software. A change to mission system software goes through three major steps. When a change is initially proposed, ASF staff use specialised aircraft modelling facilities to evaluate the benefits of the suggested enhancements. If this shows there are useful benefits, the staff use the ASF’s engineering environment, system mock-ups and simulators to make and test the required software changes, modifications and capability enhancements. Lastly, the ASF is used to support the development of operational concepts and tactics that make use of the capabilities of the newly developed software. To undertake software work, the ASF uses a combination of commercial off the shelf software tools and specially developed Wedgetail unique tools and radar stimulators. All this means in operational terms is that the aircraft will continue to evolve until it leaves service. There is no final standard at which development will cease. This ‘continuous revolution’ means that the Wedgetail aircraft in 20 years time will be very different in operational performance to the Wedgetail aircraft of today. Coalition exercises are seen as particularly useful events for driving the evolution of Wedgetail capabilities over time. When the Wedgetail aircraft first participated in a Red Flag exercise in 2010, interoperability with other participants, especially in terms of shortfalls in multi-national data link connectivity, was a serious issue. By the aircraft’s next participation in Red Flag in 2014, such issues had been solved and Wedgetail proved excellent in network management. The Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft has become an operational success and will be in RAAF service for at least the next 25-30 years. Today it is a highly capable platform able to undertake AEW&C missions involving controlling complex multi-national air operations in challenging environments as the new Middle East deployment shows. Getting there however, was not easy: per ardua ad astra, “Through adversity to the stars.”
We are proud to be a member-owned bank who has served the financial needs of the Defence Community for 40 years. We re-invest profits to provide better products and services. We don’t pay dividends to shareholders. We exist only to serve our members. We can help you create the financial future you want.
Our dedicated team are here to help you with: > Home Loans for Defence Force members > Mobile Home Loan Consultants available to come to you > Investments and Superannuation > Award winning Car Loans > Home, Contents and Car Insurance Contact us today: 1800 033 139, 8am–8pm AEST weekdays defencebank.com.au Visit your local Defence Bank branch firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more visit defencebank.com.au
Defence Bank Limited ABN 57 087 651 385 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 234582.
Countering the emerging threat from Asia Nigel Pittaway
clockwise from top: Chenyan J-31 4th Generation Chinese Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter Chengdu J-20 stealth, twin-engine 5th Generation fighter aircraft prototype being developed by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation. Upgraded Xian Y-20 large transport aircraft being developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation.
In September 2012, China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was commissioned.
IAF Ilyushin Il-78MKI refuelling two Mirage 2000 aircraft.
The emergence of China as the second Asian superpower in the past 70 years, with its rapidly increasing capability to project force across the region and beyond, has led to a significant reappraisal in Defence thinking, both within Australia and in the United States. The ‘Fortress Australia’ mentality of the 1980s is long gone, giving way to a more expeditionary approach to Australian Defence Force strategies: maintaining the capability to conduct operations in overseas theatres of war in conjunction with coalition partners, and from great distances. This strategic realignment is emphatically illustrated by the recent deployment of an Australian Air Task Group to the Middle East, mounted within RAAF resources. Last September, six F/A-18F Super Hornets along with an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C platform and a KC-30A tanker/transport, and up to 400 support personnel were deployed from Australia to the United Arab Emirates, and are now enabling the Super Hornets and coalition strike aircraft to conduct strike operations inside Iraq. Together with the two ‘Canberra’ class LHDs now entering service and the renewed focus on the area to our north and west, the ADF is better equipped to operate either autonomously or within a coalition than at any time in its recent past – arguably since the Second World War. However, the technological growth of defence forces throughout the Asia-Pacific region – particularly the recent unveiling of Chinese-designed fighter aircraft, transports, unmanned vehicles and warships – means that western powers may not retain the significant technological advantage they have enjoyed for decades.
Emerging Capabilities in Asia China’s unambiguous desire to become a major military power has sparked an Asian arms race of sorts and has also reignited some geopolitical tensions, not least in the South China Sea. Countries such as India are also striving to modernise their already large defence forces, to counter the perceived threat from China – and it’s no secret that the Obama government’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ is aimed at an enhanced US presence in the IndoPacific region to counter any future threat. Underpinned by a state-funded and rapidly growing aerospace industry, China has recently begun flying prototypes of two fighters which (outwardly at least) appear to possess stealthy characteristics, along with a strategic transport aircraft. In fact, all three of these aircraft were on display at the recent Airshow China in Zhuhai, something many international analysts consider unusual, in that the Chinese government historically does not unveil new capabilities until they are more mature operationally. Past Zhuhai shows have also showcased
indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle concepts, from small armed platforms to those of a Global Hawk size, and some of these designs are already now in service with the Chinese military. Although western analysts point out that China lags significantly behind in engine technology and is currently reliant to a large degree on Russia, China is making considerable effort to close this technology gap. The two fighters making their debut at Airshow China 2014 were the Chengdu J-20, which many experts believe represents China’s attempt to enter the 5th generation fighter stakes and JSF-like Shenyang J-31. The country has also demonstrated a willingness to export advanced fighter technology, with the unveiling at Zhuhai of the FC-31 medium-sized multi-role fighter, heavily based on the J-31 prototype. Attendant displays also included cockpit mock-ups, which make use of helmetmounted displays. The Xian Y-20, which also made its first public appearance at Zhuhai 2014 is a four-engined strategic airlifter with a payload estimated by western sources to be similar to that of Boeing’s C-17A Globemaster III. Also at Zhuhai, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) revealed a model of a turbo-prop powered medium transport reminiscent of the Airbus A400M Atlas – a concept which it says can be scaled to meet the requirements of both civil and military customers. Together with an airborne early warning and control platform and the purchase of an initial number of Ilyushin Il-78 tankers from Russia, these capabilities demonstrate the Chinese desire to have a military capable of force projection. From a maritime perspective, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has overtly begun the transition from a brown water navy to a blue water force, evidenced by the recent purchase of the ex-Soviet Admiral Kuznetsovclass aircraft carrier Varyag. Refurbished and renamed Liaoning, the 60,000 tonne vessel was commissioned in 2012 and shortly afterwards conducted landing trials with a Shenyang J-15 ‘Flying Shark’ (an unlicensed version of the Sukhoi Su-33). Although Liaoning is intended as a
stepping stone towards a PLA-N aircraft carrier capability, Chinese sources have confirmed that at least one (and more likely two) further vessels are now under construction in China. Given that China will undoubtedly have a military in the not too-distant future capable of projecting its force far and wide, how does Australia view the strategic position in AsiaPacific and how will the ADF counter it?
Strategic Position Australia’s geographic position in the AsiaPacific region, surrounded by ocean, is something of a double-edged sword. With vast distances to surveil, together with relatively sparse infrastructure in the remote northern and western regions of the country, plus a relatively small population, means that the Australian Defence Force has to do a lot more with fewer resources. Conversely, any potential enemy is faced with the problems of projecting force over long distances and maintaining expeditionary forces in order to attack Australia. Dr Andrew Davies, a senior strategy analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra notes that the post war environment Australia encountered after the defeat of the Japanese empire is no longer indicative of the environment faced in the 21st Century, with the economic and military rise of China and (to a lesser degree) India. He says, “There’s a famous saying by Mark Twain that history doesn’t repeat but it
sometimes rhymes, and I think we are in a period of history now when we’re about to have a significant revisit of some of the strategic fundamentals about Australia’s position in the world.” Although Australia is an expansive continent, it has a relatively small population and Davies notes that, by way of perspective, there are 25 south-east Asians and 50 Chinese for every Australian and, taken across the region, this extrapolates to 100 people in Asia for every person in Australia. “We have a continent-sized defence problem to provide for, with the resources of that small population. I have to say that having a continent to look after is a mixed blessing, firstly it has some significant implications for the nature of our defence forces, and it means that we have to do a lot with a little in terms of providing adequate surveillance and responsiveness on those sorts of scales,” he explained. “But on the other hand it also means that we have a large continent to defend, and anyone that wants to seriously threaten Australia’s sovereignty has to have the power projection capability to project power across oceans and into the continent, and that’s not insignificant.” Davies notes also that the Australian economy is dependent upon the provision of commodities and services to the world and is therefore fundamentally dependent on the security of the maritime environment.
RAAF F/A-18A fighters refuel from a RAAf KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport. (Defence)
Royal Australian Navy Collins Class submarine. (Defence)
Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) (Defence)
US Navy P-8A ‘Poseidon’ deploying a torpedo. (US Navy)
AUSTRALIANairpower. Two F/A-18F Super Hornets show weapons load during a combat mission over Iraq. (Defence)
“We can’t provide commodities without reliable use of the oceans and as a result of that, since Australia has been an entity, it has been a partner or ally of the major naval power of the day and that’s no coincidence.” “The result of that is that the ADF has often been called upon to defend Australia’s interests, not only by defending Australia’s shores and operating in the air-sea gap, but also by defending the interests of its major allies wherever they may be threatened.” The current strategy of homeland defence combined with expeditionary operations with coalition partners represents a move away from the ‘air-sea gap’ or ‘Fortress Australia’ concepts of defence, which prevailed in the post-Vietnam period and arguably right up to the East Timor operations of 1999. Davies argues that because Australia regards its interests being threatened when the interests of its major maritime ally, United States, are threatened, the importance of Australia as a base for allied power projection against a hostile Asian power in the Western Pacific must be fully understood. This also makes defence bases in the north and north-west of the country the likely axes of any threats, even more significant in future years, and it means Australia needs to be able to integrate its forces as much as possible with its allies. “If a nation wants to threaten Australia’s sovereignty, it needs to have prodigious power projection capabilities,” Davies explained. “To defeat a nation with power projection capabilities capable of crossing the Pacific or Indian Ocean and threatening Australia, we will need a major ally on our side.” Davies also notes that the most significant strategic development in Asia is not just the rise of China, but the fact that the Chinese have adopted a policy of area denial, designed to hold the United Stares at arm’s length from its territory. A result of this policy is that US bases in North Asia (Japan, Okinawa and South Korea) and even as far south as Guam in the Pacific Ocean are much less secure now than they were a decade or so ago. “The result of that is that the US is looking to add depth to its force disposition across
the Asia-Pacific basin and that’s exactly the reasoning behind the US Force Posture Initiatives,” he noted. “The rise of a major Asian power with the ability to contest space with the United States in north-east Asia is actually making Australia more important, as a piece of geography and as a staging point. “One of the US concepts of operation, as we’ve seen mirrored in the air-sea battle concept, is the idea of being able to subject a major power (read China) to a distant blockade, in other words to interrupt the flow of trade. “If you look at where the main trade routes are, they tend to thread the Indonesian archipelago, making Australia and the North of Australia, in particular, ideally located to mount operations in support of the concept of operations.”
Role of the Australian Defence Force From a strategic point of view therefore, Australian bases (particularly in the north of the country) will become more important as the emerging threats in Asia grow. Given that the US Force Posture agreements with the Australian Government will result in an increase in American forces in the Northern Territory, the importance of ADF interoperability with those forces will also increase in importance. The ADF’s shift to an expeditionary force assists this as, by its very concept, such
operations require forces to be deployed, operated and supported at long distances from their established bases and for extended periods of time. This often requires sovereign forces to operate within a coalition of allies, such as we have recently seen in the operations against ISIL. RAAF KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft for example are not only seamlessly supporting the Super Hornet force, but have also been used to refuel coalition aircraft, such as French Air Force Rafale fighters. Emerging capabilities such as the evolution of the Australian Army from a land force to one capable of amphibious operations from the two LHDs, as well as the structural changes being realised under Plan Beersheba, also have this concept at their core. The future ADF will be capable of operating as either a sovereign force, or within a collation of allied forces at distance from Australia, if required. From a platform perspective, the introduction of the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton to RAAF service in the next decade will address gaps in Australia’s capability to keep vast areas of ocean to our north and west under persistent surveillance and, together with major programmes such as Navy’s Future Submarine, are designed to ensure the protection of the vital sea lanes. However, it is the need for interoperability with a major ally such as the United States that has become the major imperative if Australia is to play its part in countering the emerging threat in the coming years.
Subscribe now! www.strikepublications.com.au 30
published by Strike Publications Pty Ltd - PO Box 124 Ipswich Qld 4305 - 07 3282 9019
RAAF Air Power – a cohesive solution
clockwise from top left: F-35 ‘Lightning II’ Joint Strike fighter is destined to be the RAAF’s fighter of the future with first deliveries scheduled from 2018. (Lockheed Martin Australia has chosen the P-8A ‘Poseidon’ Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft to replace its AP-3C ‘Orion’ fleet. (US Navy) High altitude surveillance will be a future role for the RAAF with the MQ-4 ‘Triton’. (Northrop Grumman)
When the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, steps down in June he will no doubt take great satisfaction in commanding an Air Force that is transforming into a cutting-edge, modern-day force that can present air defence and force projection options to Government. He can also take pride in knowing that all the building blocks are falling into place for the introduction of so-called 5th generation capabilities of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, which is the centrepiece of this transformation into an agile and adaptive air force with a range of defensive and offensive capababilities.
The RAAF is not there yet but the recent illustration deployment of an Air Task Group to the United Arab Emirates under Operation Okra, the ADF’s contribution to strikes on ISIL targets within Iraq, demonstrates a level of force projection capability at a high level. At short notice, the RAAF assembled an integrated force of combat jets, airborne early warning & control and air refuelling assets and support personnel and deployed them using organic airlift assets half way round the globe. However, if Air Marshal Brown has one concern, it is that the mindset of the wider Defence Organisation needs to change if the maximum potential of the 5th generation platforms and capabilities are to be realised. With this in mind, he launched ‘Plan Jericho’ back in May, aimed at addressing some of these issues and further preparing the RAAF for the future.
Expeditionary Operations Operation Okra, which is ongoing, followed on from RAAF C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster airdrops of food and military equipment to Iraqi villages surrounded by ISIL forces, announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on September 14.
The Australian Air Task Group (ATG) was in place at Al Minhad in the UAE just ten days later, commencing support operations (with a single E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A) on October 1, and strike operations by F/A18F Super Hornets followed on the night of October 5. Shortly before combat operations began, Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin outlined the challenges facing the Australian contingent. “The deployment so far has been a significant achievement for the Australian Defence Force,” he said. “From a standing start we packed up a potent Air Task Group and moved them 12,000 kilometres. “We also moved a Commando unit over there as well within that time, with all their supporting equipment.” The three aircraft types selected for the ATG deployment represent the cutting edge of Australia’s air power capability today, and as ‘digital’ platforms they are also well suited to operations within an international coalition. Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Australian International Airshow at Avalon in mid November, Air Vice Marshal Mel Hupfeld, formerly Air Commander Australia and now Head of Capability Systems within the Capability Development Group in Canberra,
Left: Payload Operator in the Ground Control Station at the Heron compound at Kandahar Airfield operates a Heron UAV. (Defence) Above: A C-130J pilot using Night Vision Goggles during a low-level approach to land. (Defence)
described the current capability of Air Force to conduct such operations. “Air power is inextricably linked to technological change. Maintaining a technological edge is an indispensible element of sustaining a balanced and potent air force, and one that can provide the widest range of military response options to our government and the people of Australia. “Today, we are truly an expeditionary air force and our men and women are extremely proud to be a part of that.” As a historical note, AVM Hupfeld noted that five days before the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli Cove took place during World War One, No 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps were in action against ground targets in Mesopotamia (which includes the modernday Iraq). Today, almost exactly one century later, No 1 Squadron (RAAF) is once again conducting combat missions in Iraq, not far from the site of those original operations.
Air Combat Capability The Super Hornet was selected back in 2007 to bridge the gap between the retirement of the F-111C and the delayed introduction of the F-35A but with the benefit of hindsight it was also a perfect choice for deployments such as Operation Okra. For all intents and purposes the Australian Super Hornet is identical to the latest version operated by the US Navy and equipped with the latest
sensors and weapons, including Raytheon’s APG-79 AESA radar and ATFLIR targeting pod. As such, it is naturally interoperable with US forces. While the RAAF’s ‘Classic’ F/A-18A/B Hornets are more than capable of performing the strike missions required in Iraq, it is the ‘deployability’ of the Super Hornet that better lends itself to the current operation. The Super Hornet is certainly the jet for the job in Iraq at present but the RAAF is banking on the F-35A to bring about true force transformation into the future. The first two F-35As for the RAAF made their initial flights during 2014, and training has begun for an initial cadre of Australian pilots ahead of the first deliveries in late 2018 and 2019. Between then and 2022 the F-35A will progressively replace the ‘Classic’ Hornet force as the mainstay of the RAAF’s combat fleet. RAAF Joint Strike Fighters will be almost identical to those operated by the US Air Force and, in the Asia-Pacific region, the air forces of Japan and South Korea. Once again ‘deployability’ will be a major factor in future operations but ‘connectivity’ is arguably the major advantage of modern platforms such as the F-35 and Super Hornet and the ‘force enabling’ AEW&C, tanker and surveillance platforms. The RAAF of today already has the ability to share data between its major warfighting platforms, largely based upon the Link 16 tactical data link, whereby information from
The Navy’s new Air Warfare Australia will have the sensors and communications suite to contribute intelligence information as part of a multi-platform networked force.
multiple on- and off-board sensors can be combined to provide what has been coined ‘the knowledge edge’. An example of this in day-to-day operations is the combined tasking of Super Hornets with the F/A-18A. Information from the F/A18F AESA radar and other sensors can be sent to the Classic Hornet via Link 16. This increases the capabilities of the older Hornet significantly, and its advantages continue to be better understood and exploited as time goes by. Large air combat exercises such as the recent ‘Pitch Black’ serial held in the Northern Territory in August, exercise this capability within a large force employment scenario and expand it to include the sharing of data (both by datalink and by voice) with a diverse number of platforms from a range of different air arms. This data sharing, whereby the strength of the force is greater than the sum of each platform’s individual strengths, is one of the key tenets of net-centric operations in the medium-term, and the RAAF will no doubt continue to exploit this through a similar F-35A/Super Hornet teaming. The long-term future of the Super Hornet will be dependent upon future government decisions around total number of F-35As to be purchased, but it’s worth considering that the RAAF will enjoy almost the same capabilities as the US Navy well into the next decade at least.
RAAF C-130J ‘Hercules’ continue to provide a vital airlift role in support of Australian Defence Force operations. (Defence)
aircraft and ground based Command and Control (C²) assets via Link 16. Commander of the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group, Air Commodore Warren McDonald says the the KC-30A is a very capable multi-role platform that will serve the ADF very well into the future. “By the end of 2015 we’ll have expanded the envelope to include the vast majority of our aircraft for hose and drogue operations and be well on track for any boom operations required inside the ADF and, indeed, with our coalition partners,” he said.
Operation Okra is historic, in that it not only marked the combat debut of Australia’s Super Hornets but it was the first time that the RAAF had used its force multipliers: the KC-30A tanker and E-7A Wedgetail in combat, to provide organic support to strike operations. Despite a troubled development, Wedgetail is now regarded as ‘the AEW&C capability of choice’ at many Australia’s first expeditionary force comprising No 1 Squadron Australian international exercises, according to Flying Corps in Egypt during World War I. RAAF officers connected closely with the programme. The primary sensor on indication of the importance placed on this Wedgetail is Northrop Grumman’s Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) joint operations model is the integration of a Surveillance and Response radar, which is now working very close to its Navy Fighter Controller into each Wedgetail An essential part of cohesive air power is a surveillance and response capability which, original specifications in many respects, and crew. in terms of operational utility has exceeded Likewise, the RAAF’s KC-30A Multi-Role in Australian terms at least, is needed to Tanker Transport is now performing well in safeguard many thousands of miles of expectations in many others. Wedgetail is capable of passing data via voice the Air Logistics Support and probe-and- coastline and open ocean. (HF, VHF, UHF and SATCOM) or datalink (Link drogue air tanking roles and is remarkable To replace the existing Lockheed AP-3C Orion 11 and Link 16) via a Rockwell Collins Joint in as much as it is flying operations in a war fleet in these roles, the RAAF is acquiring Tactical Distribution System. As such it is one zone, despite still being on the Australian a combination of manned Boeing P-8A Poseidon and unmanned Northrop Grumman of the few airborne platforms today that can Government’s Projects of Concern list. receive data from one link and convert it to Certification of the KC-30’s troubled aerial MQ-4C Triton platforms. The Poseidons will the other message set before passing it on to refuelling boom system (ARBS) is now begin arriving in 2017 and although there well underway and operational test and is no firm acquisition schedule for Triton at a third party. This is important when operating in evaluation (including the first contacts with present the Orions will be withdrawn from conjunction with assets such as the an F-35A) will occur during 2015. When fully service by the end of 2020. Australian Navy’s upgraded Anzac frigates operational the KC-30A will also be capable of With a long endurance surveillance capability DefenceToday 2015-01-27T15:08:48+11:00 and future Air Warfare Destroyers as part of acting as an information ‘node’ in the combat such as Triton the RAAF is taking a further the network-centric operational model. An network, sharing information with other step into the world of net-centric operations
PERSONAL INSURANCE FOR VETERANS AND ADF MEMBERS
TO COMPARE THE FEATURES CALL
1300 552 662
• Home • Contents • Landlords Liability • Car • Caravans • Trailers • Private pleasure craft • Motorcycles • Travel
Pay your premiums by direct debit at no extra cost (not applicable to Travel and CTP) (The Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme underwrites the DSHI Home Building policy. All other policies are underwritten by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited ABN 78 003 191 035. AFS Licence 239 545). Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement of the particular product before making any decisions about the product.
AUSTRALIANairpower. and will need to further develop key skills to derive the maximum possible benefit from their use. The IAI Heron medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) remotely-piloted aircraft is operated by the RAAF for operations in Afghanistan. At the end of October, the then Defence Minister David Johnston announced that the capability would continue to operate in Australia after withdrawal from the Middle East Area of Operations, as part of a plan to ensure RAAF pilots maintain the skills to operate unmanned aerial systems until the introduction of the Triton. “The retention of two Heron aircraft will help create a robust development program to ensure RAAF is well prepared for the Government’s investment in the MQ-4C Triton,” he said. Of course, the platforms themselves are only part of a cohesive approach to modern air power and other key components include robust C² systems, such as the RAAF’s Vigilare system, which utilises the three groundbased Control and Reporting Units (CRU) and ATC radar information as well as the data received from aircraft and other sources.
The introduction of 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft from 2017 is arguably the biggest leap forward in terms of airborne electronic warfare capability the RAAF will have made since the Second World War. When the capability is in full service around 2020, the RAAF will be the only air arm outside the US Navy to have a full-spectrum electronic warfare combat capability. Preparations for the introduction of Growler are already underway, with the first Electronic Warfare Operators undergoing training with the US Navy at the present time. However, to stand up a complex, high-end capability such as Growler from scratch many things have to be taken into consideration. Exercising these capabilities to their full potential, for example, will require electronic warfare ranges and simulation, a capability that Australia just does not possess. Even exercising the Super Hornet’s APG-79 radar to its full capability is difficult right now, and in a few years Australia will also have the F-35A and its Northrop Grumman APG-81 AESA radar to maintain and develop. These issues are just some of the problems
AM Geoff Brown referred to when he announced Plan Jericho earlier in 2014. The strategy is named after the biblical Walls of Jericho as well as Operation Jericho during the Second World War, in which Mosquito bombers broke down the walls of a Gestapo prison to allow French resistance fighters to escape, and is aimed at changing the mindset within Defence. AM Brown says, “The most important thing the F-35 brings, in my mind, is the fused picture that situational awareness brings to the operator. What has happened? What is happening? What might happen? – The level of situational awareness is a combination of all these things. “The F-35 gives you a massive leap in situational awareness and that’s the key factor in 5th Generation. They will fundamentally change how Air Force interacts with Navy, Army and our allies (but) we need to work as a system of systems. We can often be constrained by previous mindsets.” AM Brown noted that in some respects the RAAF is relatively well-prepared for 5th generation technology, with the earlier decision to buy the AESA-equipped Super Hornet and the provision of exchange slots for Australian fighter pilots in US Air Force F-22A Raptor squadrons, but he called for a greater focus on simulation. “In a line environment, with an AESA radar, you actually have a lot of trouble challenging the aircraft. Simulation is absolutely key to getting the best out of the capability,” he warned. “From a whole of Defence point of view, simulation has got to get a much bigger focus. It just can’t be on individual platforms, we’ve got to create an integrated simulation environment if we are truly going to move to these 5th generation capabilities.” Other issues to be addressed under Plan Jericho will include the braking down of ‘silo’ walls within Defence, including the acquisition process and the relationship between Defence and industry, to better understand and harness 5th generation potential. That said, however, the RAAF has either recently introduced, or is in the process of introducing a full spectrum of air power capabilities, including enhanced airlift in the form of additional C-17As and the AleniaAermacchi C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter as well as the other platforms and technologies coming along in the next decade and beyond.
C-17 ‘Spartan’ is the long awaited replacement for the DH-4 ‘Caribou’ tactical airlifter.
RAAF ‘Heron’ Remotely Piloted Aircraft operating in southern Afghanistan. (Defence)
Electronic Warfare – ‘Breaking Down the Walls’
Message from Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale The City of Ipswich is leading the way for development, innovation and growth in south east Queensland. Centrally located on national road networks and only 40 kilometres from Brisbane, Ipswich is a prime location to set up and grow your business with our industry base sustained by strong professional services and heavy investment in infrastructure by all levels of government. Our modern roads and rail provide fast and efficient access to airports, capital cities and regions, while our water and waste infrastructure is well equipped for industry growth. International relations and foreign investment also plays a large part in the prosperity of local businesses. Ipswich has an extensive list of international Sister City Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding, fostering relationships and trading opportunities. As well as a growing industry base, retailers and tourism industry, the City of Ipswich is also home to the largest Aerospace precinct in the southern hemisphere. The RAAF Base Amberley employs more than 6000 people and many defence families have embraced Ipswich as home. Creating jobs and building a prosperous region only makes up one part of our city - the community spirit and balanced lifestyle is what makes Ipswich the ideal location to live, work and play. Ipswich has more than 6000 hectares of bushland open space for your enjoyment. River Heart Parklands in Ipswich and Robelle Domain Parklands in Springfield Central both feature water park play areas and for animal lovers, Queens Park has its own Nature Centre – it’s a free mini zoo. What was once a hidden secret, more people are discovering the countless opportunities living and investing in Ipswich provides. We are a city where people, education and businesses matter. Mayor Paul Pisasale City of Ipswich
IpsWICh Queensland’s fastest growing city
Be part of one of south East Queensland’s most progressive cities Home to not only Australia’s largest defence base but one of the largest in the southern hemisphere, housing over 6,000 Defence personnel and contractors on site, RAAF Base Amberley is proving to be a leader in Australian defence technology and operations. Ipswich prides itself on creating a welcoming and sustainable network to both Australian defence operators and contractors on a national and international scale. Already proving attractive to some of the largest defence contractors and their support networks, the City of Ipswich offers companies elite education facilities, professional service
providers and a skilled workforce to help your business grow. With a proactive council, modern infrastructure, central location and efficient transport networks, Ipswich is a major hub of activity leading the way for innovation, growth and investment in south east Queensland. Exciting opportunities for future economic growth and social vitality awaits new business ventures looking to establish operations in Ipswich. When considering your future business needs, think location, think lifestyle, think affordability, think prosperity - think Ipswich.
For Further inFormation or assistance contact: Ipswich City Council’s Office of Economic Development Telephone: +61 7 3810 6938 Email: email@example.com Website: www.ipswich.qld.gov.au
Enhanced airlift adds to ADF capabilities
RAAF C-17A ‘Globemaster III’ aircraft have airlifted large loads to every corner of the world and engaged in a variety of roles including humanitarian relief and aeromedical evacuation. (Defence)
Australian Defence Force airlift capabilities have been enhanced significantly with six C-17A Globemaster III aircraft brought into Air Force service and more recently five KC-30A multi-role tanker transports. Both aircraft types not only enable force projection capabilities for Australia’s combat forces but also fit well with the transformal process now underway for a future net-centric force.
Two enduring images of Air Force operations during 2014 were taken not in Australia but at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands, of C-17s operating half a world away from home base in Queensland. The first image, taken in August, showed three RAAF C-17A Globemasters together on the ramp, supporting the Australian Government’s Operation Bring Them Home, the repatriation of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 shoot-down over Ukraine. The second image showed two RAAF C-17As together with a KC-30A multi-role tanker transport, also from Amberley. When one considers that half of Australia’s C-17A fleet was represented in the first picture and one third of the available KC-30As in the second (two of the five are currently in Spain undertaking certification), it brings home just how hard the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group works and how far flung their aircraft and personnel can be at any given time. Of course Operation Bring Them Home was just one operation; RAAF C-130J Hercules were continuing their support of ADF operations in the Middle East in the same
period and the strategic transports were also supporting exercises as far afield as the United States. The government decision in October to acquire at least two and possibly four more C-17As therefore comes at a particularly welcome time. This decision, coupled with the Defence Minister’s hints that two more KC-30As may also be acquired in the near future and the planned delivery of the first C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifters, 2015 looks like being a good year for Australia’s airlift capability.
Air Mobility Group In May the RAAF announced a change in name of one of its major Force Element Groups, with Air Lift Group formally becoming Air Mobility Group. Commander AMG Air Commodore Warren McDonald said the name change reflected the Group’s expanded capabilities with the introduction of the KC-30A in 2011 and that the organisation’s core mission remained focused on the movement of personnel, materiel and forces using a range of airborne platforms.
“ALG was formed in February 1987 when Air Force created its original force element groups, and the name ‘Air Lift Group’ served us well for 27 years, providing a ready identity to our missions, including air logistics support, airborne operations and aeromedical evacuation,” he said. “The function of air-to-air refuelling is to extend range, payload and endurance and is not adequately described by the term ‘air lift’.” Other high-profile operations conducted by Air Mobility Group during recent months have included the airdropping of humanitarian supplies to people isolated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces and the delivery of military stores to Erbil in Northern Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced in July that an RAAF C-17 would assist Dutch C-130 Hercules in the repatriation of bodies from MH17 from Kharkiv (Charkov) Ukraine to the Netherlands for identification. MH17 originated in Amsterdam and a large proportion of the passengers were Dutch nationals. Dutch and Australian airlifters began flying an air-bridge series of flights between the RNLAF base at Eindhoven and Kharkiv on July 23. Once formally identified, the remains of the 37 Australian victims were further repatriated to Australia. The operation was completed last August and the assistance of the RAAF C-17 was greatly appreciated by the Netherlands Government. One senior Australian government official noted that its presence on the ramp at Eindhoven was clear evidence of Australia’s ability and willingness to assist the international community, saying that wherever they go, RAAF C-17s “buy a lot of goodwill.” He said the government viewed the RAAF air lift aircraft not as just military equipment but as ambassadors for Australia. With the worsening situation in Iraq, RAAF Air
Mobility Group assets were in action less than a week after Operation Bring Them Home wound up, when a C-130J performed the air drop of nine tonnes of humanitarian supplies to Yezidi civilians trapped by ISIL fighters on Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq. The drop was performed by one of two Hercules based at Al Minhad in the UAE in support of the ADF’s Joint Task Group 633 and a second drop was performed in the region on August 30. As well as the Hercules, a Defence spokesperson said after the second drop that Australia would step up its assistance to the people of Iraq and that C-17A aircraft were also available to support this task. “This commitment follows Australia’s humanitarian aid contribution and will help the people of Iraq to confront the threat of ISIL extremists and efforts to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening,” the spokesperson said.
Above: At dawn a US medical transport bus pulls up to the RAAF C-17 at Ramstein Airbase in Germany. RAAF Aeromedical Evacuation (AME) and Critical Care Teams have combined to fly home seven Australian soldiers who were wounded in Afghanistan. (Defence) Below: Three Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemasters at Eindhoven Airfield in the Netherlands. (Defence
The first C-17A flight to deliver arms into besieged areas of Northern Iraq occurred on September 2 when one aircraft landed at Erbil after a flight from Albania (via Baghdad), where the weapons were loaded. The aircraft had deployed from Al Minhad to Tirana to collect the arms, which were inspected and cleared by Iraqi officials onboard the aircraft in Baghdad prior to the onward flight to Erbil. A second flight was performed on September 4 and by the end of the month a total of five C-17 flights had delivered military stores to Erbil. Commander Joint Operations (CJOPS) Vice Admiral David Johnston said, “Our contribution to Iraq will continue to be co-ordinated with the Iraqi government, regional countries and our international partners. We started off dropping humanitarian relief to Mount Sinjar and then Amerli and then we’ve boosted up the munitions supplies of the Iraqi Security
Forces, now we are assisting the Iraqi Security Forces from the air to retake their country.”
Increased Globemaster Fleet The RAAF C-17A fleet, consisting of six aircraft with No 36 Squadron at Amberley, achieved Final Operating Capability (FOC) in February 2014, not because of delays associated with its introduction, but rather the staged acquisition process. The first four aircraft had actually achieved FOC in 2011, but a fifth and later still, a sixth, were subsequently purchased. “The Government’s purchase of the two additional C-17s has greatly increased our ability to respond with strategic airlift in our region, when and where Air Force is needed most,” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown said at thetime. “In just a few short years, the C-17As have
Aeromedical Evacuation configuration in a C-17A aircraft. (Defence)
made a difference to communities around the world with humanitarian and disaster relief, and provided a continuing link to our men and women in the Middle East Area of Operations.” The valuable work done by the fleet since then, including the operations in Ukraine and Iraq together with the high operational tempo of 36 Squadron, convinced the government that further aircraft would be required. On October 3, the then Defence Minister David Johnston announced that up to four more could be purchased, saying that the government had begun the process of purchasing two additional aircraft and had also requested pricing and availability data for two further Globemasters through the US Foreign Military Sales process. Following the announcement, a Defence spokesman confirmed that the second pair are options and will be considered during the Defence White Paper process.
Large cargo onboard a C-17A ‘Globemaster III’. (Defence)
Left: Australia’s new tactical airlifter, the C-27J ‘Spartan’ has commonality with the C-130J. (Defence)
Left: Equipment loaded onto a 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules prior to departing for Exercise Red Flag. (Defence)
Defence considers the ability of the C-17 to rapidly react and move large elements of Australia’s support systems over long distances during times of both peace and conflict highlights the need for the RAAF to have a good sized fleet. The White Paper notwithstanding, the decision on the additional two aircraft, bringing the fleet to eight aircraft, will need to be made with a degree of urgency, as Boeing had announced back in September 2013 that it would close the C-17A production line in mid-2015. Boeing has internally funded the completion of ten ‘white tail’ C-17As, for which no customer had been announced prior to Australia’s announcement, and these will be the final aircraft to come off the production line in Long Beach. The eight aircraft of that batch as yet unallocated are also being eyed off by several other countries including India, which is currently taking delivery of ten Globemasters already on contract and has made it clear that it wishes to buy more. A Boeing spokesperson said the company had no current plans to extend C-17A production beyond the middle of the year and contracts for some long-lead items have already been completed.
support of an RAAF C-130J Hercules deployment to Exercise Red Flag Alaska, resulted in a direct KC-30A flight from Sydney to Anchorage. During the 2014 Pitch Black exercise, limited ramp space in Darwin meant one KC-30A supported RAAF Hornet operations from Amberley each day, a round trip of around 3100 nautical miles and during the exercise period it also carried out concurrent tasking. “It takes people back to just how capable this aircraft is and how far we can get, refuel and return,” commented AIRCDRE McDonald. “There are even people inside the Air Force who are still surprised today by what it can do.” Every year is a busy year in air lift terms, but the next year promises to be an exciting time for the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group. Deliveries of the C-27J are set to begin during 2015 (possibly as early as the Avalon Airshow in February), to fill the battlefield airlifter role left vacant by the retirement of the venerable Caribou in 2009 and then there are additional Globemasters and possibly KC-30As to come onboard.
KC-30A Takes on Multi-Role Operations The Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft of No 33 Squadron are now performing extremely well in the conduct of operations including airborne logistics support (ALS) and air to air refuelling, using the probe and drogue configuration. Although the fly-by-wire Aerial Refuelling Boom System is still not yet operational, it has just been through a comprehensive remediation programme and will undergo operational test and evaluation in Australia during the course of 2015. While the KC-30A programme is still officially a Project of Concern the aircraft is earning respect for the types of operations it is currently cleared to perform, and last October came the announcement that an additional two KC-30s would be purchased. There has also been some speculation that at least one of the new KC-30As may have its cabin configured for the transportation of VIPs, with enough room to also take the Canberra press gallery and government aides on the same aircraft. This addresses concerns about officials and media having to rely on civilian airlines when accompanying government representatives, due to the relatively small size of the current Boeing 737-BBJ Special Purpose Aircraft. Adding to this speculation, a senior government official has recently speculated that ‘one (KC-30A) might be painted white’. It is worth considering at this point that Airbus has recently announced that it is developing a VIP interior kit for the A330 family of aircraft, on which the KC-30A is based. Even in its standard configuration, the KC-30A is capable of carrying 270 passengers and up to 26 LD3 cargo containers in the underfloor holds. Maximum fuel capacity is 111,000 kg, all of which is useable as it doesn’t need extra fuel tanks dedicated to AAR offload. This makes it a superb strategic airlifter in its own right and recent ALS flights have performed some of the longest RAAF flights in terms of distance. Indeed the record for the longest RAAF flight ever, was flown by a KC-30A which flew from Darwin to Dallas-Fort Worth in the United States, a distance of 7954.5 nautical miles. Another recent trip in
ANZAC Frigate upgrade sustains WA jobs
Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe Mitchell Sutton
Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy ships taking part in Exercise Triton Storm. Foreground to background: HMAS Perth, HMNZS Te Mana and HMNZS Te Kaha. (Defence)
A key example of the Department of Defence’s commitment to harnessing Western Australia’s defence sector is the ANZAC Frigate upgrade. Operating out of the Australian Marine Complex at Henderson, the Systems Program Office, referred to as the ‘ANZAC SPO’, is one of the most important defence industry programmes in Western Australia. Major defence companies resident there include: BAE Systems, Saab Australia, CEA Technologies and Naval Ship Management Australia (NSM). NSM is a joint venture between Babcock and UGL, in conjunction with the Department of Defence, to provide maintenance and system upgrades for the nation’s eight ANZAC Class frigates, in a contract worth over $350 million. “The core business is run out of here in WA,” says the SPO’s Engineer Manager Robert Jackson, “It’s actually cheaper and more efficient to have everything installed and maintained in one place”. The Henderson Australian Marine Complex
precinct has been vital to the ongoing success of the SPO, as has the pool of skilled labour created in WA by the resources boom. The Common User Facility and BAE’s shipyards at AMC are considered to be national assets, ranking in importance with Fleet Base East and Newcastle. “Our Navy is supported by a world class facility that will deliver for decades to come, and has the industry grunt to turn ideas into war-fighting excellence,” commented Captain Wendy Malcolm, Director of the ANZAC SPO programme. “I look back at the courage of the State Government to invest in the Henderson Common User Facility and applaud them”. Combined, the CUF and the BAE facility can dock up to six frigates or submarines at once. Additionally, the facility’s floating dock is the largest in Australia, and could potentially be upgraded to take vessels as large as the new Amphibious Assault Ships (LHDs). “There’s a very significant docking capability here that doesn’t necessarily exist elsewhere,” stated Mr Jackson.
HMA Ships ANZAC and Arunta set sail from Albany, Western Australia to begin anti submarine warfare serials. (Defence)
Skilled labour has also been a large attraction, with workers qualified in everything from aluminium welding to fibre optics, easily sourced thanks to the large oil and gas industry. The majority of these subcontractors are local SMEs. “From my viewpoint it’s great,” said Mr Jackson. “You have all the subcontractors, the skillsets and sub-manufacturing here, all within a stone’s throw of the facility”. Captain Malcolm concurred “The ‘can do’ attitude of the WA workforce leaves the rest of the nation in its wake. They continually step up to the mark to deliver award winning capability in our warships”. The work is complex, with around 70 public servants and military personnel, and between 150 and 250 contractors working directly on both the sustainment of existing vessels along with the generation, installation and testing of new capability. They are guided by a central Capital Projects office in Canberra assisted by a small maintenance team in the East, which handles minor work on the other three ANZAC Class frigates homeported on the east coast.
clockwise from top: Henderson Australian Marine Complex in Western Australia. HMAS Perth docked at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia, modified under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence Project. HMAS Canberra, Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).
Things can easily get complicated, with the teams working on as many as 100 individual projects at once, all of which have to integrate perfectly with each ship’s existing systems and each other. “They all consume power, they all take up space, and they all interact with various other systems on the platform,” Mr Jackson noted. “The whole ANZAC project is a challenge”. The most significant recent project for the group has been the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade, first declared in 2003 and commencing work in 2010. Over a seven year period every one of the Navy’s eight ANZAC Class Frigates will be significantly remodelled in order to improve the vessel’s ability to thwart anti-ship missiles. Around 30 per cent of each ship’s compartments are modified, with a complete remodelling of the upper deck and the installation of the
CEA designed and developed Phased Array Radar, new navigation radar system, combat management system, infrared search and track system, and their attendant support infrastructure. The upgrade takes around 12 months to install, followed by three to four months of testing, with two ships being outfitted at a time. Other related projects worth around $65 million are also being undertaken to improve communications and data capability, and to increase the ship’s weight margin to boost its capacity. Mr Jackson said that the upgrades will make the ANZAC “One of the most capable platforms of its size in the world. It is a compact frigate and the Navy have it jam packed. “They have maximised the full amount of capability on the platform to deliver a flexible and powerful warship.”
There is some future potential for WA to be a destination for additional naval industry work, with the possibility of more ships being based at HMAS Stirling astride a solid industrial base located at Henderson. Already, WA is under strong consideration to host the upcoming the ANZAC Class Communications and Platform Systems Remediation programme, which will be done as part of the ANZAC Block Upgrade Programme to commence in 2017. “They’ve really got to determine the size of the Navy they want over the years,” Mr Jackson said. “At the moment that could be as extreme as bringing an LHD, or an AWD over here, or it could be as minor as upgrading the facilities to enable those things to dock here. “Creating an industrial base that can be utilised, which is good, because it’s bringing a lot of skilled labour here.”
In print and online! www.strikepublications.com.au published by Strike Publications Pty Ltd - PO Box 124 Ipswich Qld 4305 - 07 3282 9019
LAST WORD airpower. AUSTRALIAN
ISIS and the threat worldwide David Kilcullen
Former soldier, military strategist, best-selling author and counter-insurgency expert Dr David Kilcullen delivers the 2014 John Bonython Lecture for the Centre for Independent Studies on the serious threat to the West by Islamic extremist groups.
How did ISIS come to join al Qaeda at the peak of the global jihad? It resulted from two key events: the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the failure of the Arab Spring. Bin Laden’s death in May 2011 threw al Qaeda into disarray. The organisation went through a succession struggle, and turned inward for several months before Ayman al-Zawahiri emerged as undisputed leader. Those months were critical, because mid2011 was when the Arab Spring seemed to be succeeding: secular, democratic, largely peaceful protest movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen had successfully thrown off dictatorships; and for a time this seemed to contradict al Qaeda’s argument that only terrorism against the West (the “far enemy”) could overthrow these regimes (the “near enemy”). But by late 2011 it was clear the Arab Spring was not going to deliver stable democracies. Egypt slipped back into authoritarianism, Yemen remained hugely violent, Libyans threw off Gaddafi but were left with an increasingly violent power vacuum, and a crackdown in Bahrain crushed protests there. Most importantly, in Syria, the early promise of a peaceful end to the Iranianbacked Damascus regime failed. The regime consolidated and protests escalated into a horrific sectarian civil war. So, peaceful methods failed (except in Tunisia, site of the original outbreak and, seemingly at present, the exception that proves the rule). Insurgencies emerged in Syria, Libya, Egypt’s Sinai desert, and Mali. al Qaeda was in disarray: the Arab Spring seems to have caught them flat-footed. So as people turned
back to violence, they didn’t look to al Qaeda: the group had lost credibility. That gap was increasingly being filled by ISIS. ISIS, for its part, used Syria to reinvent itself after its defeat in Iraq. The organization was down to about five per cent of its original strength by late 2011; it was scattered and on the run from U.S. and Iraqi forces. As the Syrian revolution unfolded, Abubakr al-Baghdadi sent a small cadre to Syria. They found sanctuary from pressure in Iraq, they could regroup and re-equip. Their battle experience drew financial backing from salafi donors, and with their tight organization and specific political program, they began to dominate. Three factors helped: the Assad regime, the West’s failure to support the secular democratic uprising, and the Iraqi government in Baghdad. In Syria, Assad claimed his opposition consisted entirely of jihadists. At first this was a lie: the same broad-based, secular, pro-democracy movement arose in Syria as elsewhere in the Arab Spring. But the violence of Assad’s crackdown turned protest into insurgency. Civil leaders were sidelined, armed groups began to grow, the movement became more extreme, and Assad’s lie became increasingly true. He maintained a de facto truce with ISIS until late 2013—the rise of ISIS helped prove his case about a jihadist enemy, ISIS spent most of its time attacking other rebel groups anyway, and avoided confronting the regime directly, so Assad in turn let ISIS gain control of Raqqa. Raqqa today is the ISIS capital, its major base, home to hundreds out of the thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to join it. The second factor was our failure to support
Syria’s democracy movement. It’s a selfserving myth that there was never a chance for the democracy movement to succeed. The democratic opposition to Assad was long-standing, it had significant popular support, and it was far stronger and better organized than Gaddafi’s opposition in Libya. Firm diplomatic pressure by the West in 2011, military support to democracy groups in 2012, and deterrent strikes against Assad when he began using chemical weapons against his own people in late 2012 / early 2013 could have made a real difference. Instead, we were tied up in Libya in 2011, gave virtually no support to the democracy movement, and offered too little help, too late, to the secular rebels. I’m not suggesting we should have invaded Syria but I am suggesting that Western diplomatic efforts to ensure a political transition, backed by force if necessary to stop Assad’s violence against his people – in accordance with the established international principle of Responsibility to Protect – would have done a lot to prevent the emergence of ISIS. Even now, because Western countries have refused to come out strongly against Assad, and have yet to target any regime positions, many Syrians see our
Right: F/A-18F Super Hornet prepares to refuel from a United States Air Force KC-30A tanker. Opposite page: Air Refueller Operator onboard a KC-30A refuels two F/A18F Super Hornet aircraft over Iraq. (Defence) The crew of a RAAF KC-30A check instruments during an air refuelling sortie. (Defence) An F/A-18F Super Hornet fully armed over Iraq. (Defence)
efforts as helping the regime. Few Syrians will back us against ISIS until we commit to overthrowing Assad, which for them is the whole point of the uprising. The final factor was the Iraqi government’s lurch into sectarianism at the end of 2011. It’s easy to blame Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki here. I’ve heard people ask “What happened to Maliki? How did he go from being inclusive in 2007-8 to being sectarian in 2012”? That question bespeaks a lack of understanding of conditions in Iraq. Yes, Maliki was relatively inclusive in 2007-8 but that was when there were 165,000 U.S. troops in country, advisors embedded throughout his government and security forces, and billions were being spent in assistance. We had huge leverage, and could ensure fair treatment for Sunnis, Shi’a and Kurds. Remember the Sunni community, by turning against al QaedaI (now ISIS) during the Awakening, enabled a massive reduction in violence, allowing us to stabilise Iraq and start withdrawing. After the coalition withdrew, leaving zero troops behind, pulling out civilian advisers and cutting off assistance, we lost leverage. For his part, Maliki no longer had us to act as mediator or ensure fair outcomes. He was in a zero-sum game, where he could no longer afford to be inclusive—he had to consolidate his Shi’a support base, and seek Iranian support. He reneged on his deals with Sunnis and Kurds, and started sidelining professional military, police and administrative officials, and replacing them with sectarian (often corrupt) loyalists. As a result, by 2013, Iraq was in disarray. Kurds and Sunnis felt betrayed by Baghdad, tribal elders had been hung out to dry, the Iraqi security forces were engaged in what Sunnis saw as a sectarian version of ethnic cleansing – and there was space for a return of ISIS. This situation created the environment that allowed the ISIS expansion in 2013: its jailbreaks, seisure of cities, expansion in Iraq and Syria, and its blitzkrieg-like breakout to Mosul and other cities in June 2014.
What needs to be done? If that’s the threat, what is the counter? We need to consider both the threat from Islamist terrorism and the risk arising from our own reaction to that threat. We can break the terrorist threat into four components: domestic radicalisation, foreign fighters, the effect on regional terror groups, and destabilisation in the Middle East. Our strategic approach needs to address all four and, I would argue, in that order of priority. So, domestic radicalisation first. What we see in Western societies is the seductive pull of ISIS on marginalised people, who feel themselves disenfranchised, ‘losers’ in our
society, and want to be part of something huge, successful, historical and important. ISIS offers them all that, a chance to validate themselves through action. Western governments since 9/11 have had a bad habit of orientalising Muslims, treating them as a special case, as an exotic, potentially violent minority, who need to be handled with kid gloves. Often governments have sought to deal with Muslims through traditional elders, appointed (sometimes self-appointed) leaders who the government treats as intermediaries, hoping they will keep their young men and women in line. This has three really bad effects. First, these so-called elders are often, by definition, more conservative, authoritarian and traditionalist, and by deferring to them we’re deepening the marginalisation of young Muslims. Secondly, there’s a moral hazard: people are encouraged to seek special treatment, to set themselves apart from the rest of society, leveraging the existence of extremist crazies as a way to advance their own agenda. That in turn tends to move entire communities in a more sectarian, segregated direction and creates divisions in society that extremists can exploit. Finally, it creates the impression that a whole community is responsible for the actions of a lunatic, criminal fringe. This approach has not, and will not work. Repression, surveillance, and special intermediaries simply make the problem worse. We need to treat Australian Muslims like Australian Catholics, Australian Hindus or any other Australian – with all the rights, freedoms, expectations and responsibilities that come from free membership in a free society. If people engage in criminal acts they need to be treated like any other criminal. We need to open up opportunities for selfexpression and free agency within our own societies, so people can see that the answer to their problems lies here, not elsewhere.
The answer to domestic radicalisation, then, turns out to be more freedom, not less. Likewise though, with freedom comes responsibility. We need to be clear that we don’t plan to turn our societies inside out in order to make a disaffected minority more comfortable. The liberal values that lie at the heart of our society, on which our country is built, are not up for discussion. We can’t afford to be tolerant of intolerance, or to allow the implied threat of terrorism to let a minority (any minority) hold the rest of us to ransom. The second threat is that from foreign fighters, and here the risk is that members of our own societies will join ISIS or al Qaeda, reinfiltrate back into our communities, and carry out attacks here. This threat is real, but we need to measure our response carefully lest we do more harm than good. I often hear people say “why do we need to intervene overseas? Let’s just pull up the drawbridge, take defensive measures to protect ourselves against domestic terrorism, and leave it at that.” I’m afraid that approach doesn’t really work. In the first place, there is no drawbridge. Australia is an open society, connected with the rest of the world, and our freedom and prosperity depend on maintaining that openness. Secondly, we need to be clear about what truly effective “defensive measures” would look like. These might include mass surveillance, collection of personal data, suppression of dissent, limits on free discussion, tracking of individuals on suspicion, detention without trial, travel and financial restrictions, and a pervasive police and security presence. This would mean fortified checkpoints in public places, heavily armed police and gun-carrying intelligence services with the power of arrest or to use lethal force. Since 9/11, many western countries have moved well on the
way to some of these things in the name of protecting against terrorism. We may destroy our free and open society in order to save it: a fully protected society looks a lot like a police state. There’s a stark trade-off here. To put it one way, how many terrorist attacks, bombings or assassinations are we prepared to accept as the price of preserving our freedom? Conversely, how much privacy, freedom and civil liberty are we prepared to surrender in order to prevent those attacks? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. In a democracy this is a decision that only the people can make. Technocrats, especially security professionals whose budget and advancement depend on the outcome or politicians who know they will shoulder the blame for any attack, can’t be allowed to decide this for us. At the same time, if society decides a certain level of risk is acceptable, we can’t go back and retrospectively change our minds after the event, retroactively punishing security officials or political leaders for risk-management decisions we made as a society. What we need is a public, informed debate on this set of trade-offs, along with safeguards to protect ourselves and against unintended consequences. The third threat – the effect on regional terrorist groups – is something that Australia has done well since 9/11, and where current policy seems pretty well calibrated. Assistance to regional partners, information sharing, cooperation on regional security preparedness, and joint investigation when incidents occur, are all things that have been in place since 2003, after the first Bali bombing, and they have largely been
effective in our region. We need to think about widening that regional network, and about how to react to increased threats, but in general terms I think we have those settings about right. The final threat – the destabilising effect of ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa – is the threat against which our troops are currently engaged in Iraq. To me, the logic of this is extremely clear. We’ve already talked about how attractive ISIS is to disaffected elements within our own society. It has an appeal precisely because of what seems to be an unbroken string of military victories. Because it seems successful, it offers people the chance to share in that success and significance. We can turn our society upside down in order to deal with the threat from this side, or we can go to where ISIS is – currently, the Middle East and parts of North Africa – and inflict damage on the group. This takes the ‘shine’ off of the seemingly invincible ISIS, showing people it can be defeated and emphasising that joining ISIS is a fool’s errand. The message is “it’s pretty dangerous over there, and you might not make it back.” If we want to limit the restrictions to our freedom in this country, and relax those restrictions before they become permanent, we must deal with ISIS where it currently is. I am emphatically not talking about reinvading and reoccupying Iraq; that was a disaster the first time around, and doing it again wouldn’t make it any better. I’m also not talking about a campaign to destroy Assad militarily. I’m talking about a targeted effort using a combination of air power, special operations, military assistance and a limited number of combat troops to destroy
the capacity of ISIS. This would break up the state it’s creating, encourage local opposition to take it down, and put enough pressure on Assad to force a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war, one in which secular democracy, with international support, plays a key role. I want to end with two concluding observations. The first is to re-emphasize something that I, and others, have been saying ever since 9/11, namely that this is a long war, a multi-generational struggle between two fundamentally opposed sets of values. It has already gone on for half a century, and it has just as long to run. One mistake we made after 9/11 was to focus too narrowly on al Qaeda, as if killing senior leaders equated to defeating the organisation, and as if defeating al Qaeda equated to ending the terrorist threat. Let’s not make the same mistake again with ISIS. We will defeat ISIS, I have absolutely no doubt about that. But if we don’t also think more broadly, across all four of those threat categories, we’ll find ourselves back here again in another few years. Worse than that, al Qaeda hasn’t gone away, it’s eclipsed but far from defeated, and there’s every possibility it will compete with, or even partner with, the remnants of ISIS in the next phase of this long conflict. If we want to succeed in that conflict, we must find ways to deal with the threat that are affordable enough, non-intrusive enough, and sustainable enough, that we can maintain them essentially indefinitely, without destroying the free society we seek to protect.
Experience the thrill of the Air Show ..
100 years of Military Aviation
Souvenir magazine now on sale
From First Flight to Future Flight 52 pages packed with history and photos Read the story of the beginnings of the Royal Australian Air Force, marvel at the daring of our early pilots, and view with awe photos of former and future aircraft.
A keepsake for all time!
Just $10 postage paid Australia-wide Delivery by Australia Post - Pay by Credit card or Paypal CREDIT CARD PAYMENT Tel: 07 3282 9019
PAYPAL PAYMENT www.defence-today.com.au/shop
Produced by Strike Publications Pty Ltd PO Box 124 Ipswich Qld 4305 www.strikepublications.com.au
AIR LAND SEA Defence Today is the leading publisher of Defence-related reporting in Australia, with expert analysis and detailed, accurate articles on all aspects of Defence capability and weaponry. Defence Today has a major presence at all Australian Trade Shows and conferences; editorial content and publication timing combined with a market reach to promote Defence industry in Australia. An advertising strategy in this Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foremost Defence capabilities magazine will increase the profile of your business across the Defence sector. DefenceToday reaches a multi-layer market: political leaders, Defence, military commanders, Defence Industry and the general public.
Further information: Chris Nelson - Business Development Manager E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: +61 (7) 3812 2456 M: +61 411 138 212
Defence Today is published by Strike Publications Pty Ltd I ABN 41 010 922 335 I 07 3282 9010 I PO Box 124 Ipswich Q 4305 I ww.strikepublications.com.au
Proudly supporting the Australian Defence Force With more than 1300 staff working across 15 sites in Australia and New Zealand, Airbus Group Australia Pacific is a leading partner in the Defence and Civil aerospace industries. We are assembling and delivering 47 MRH90 multi-role helicopters for the Australian Army and Navy, and also supporting 22 Tiger ARH armed reconnaissance helicopters for the Australian Army. The company supports more than 500 Airbus Helicopters aircraft in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and is well recognised as a leading Through-LifeSupport provider in military fixed wing and helicopter platforms.