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Canberra-based Penten Services has been awarded two contracts totalling $2.2 million through the Defence Innovation Hub to bolster the Australian Army’s cyber capabilities.

The award will see Penten develop new technologies to enhance Army’s ability to send communications over unsecured networks by monitoring network traffic and mitigating attacks on its network. It was announced by new Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price who said funding would also be provided to help Army develop a cyber-management capability and enhance security countermeasures.

“Innovation is critical to build and sustain the Australian Defence Force’s capability edge,” she said in a statement. “Australia benefits from an industrial base of many agile small to medium enterprises like Penten.”

Penten was established in 2015 and has grown from four to more than 50 employees. The two contracts were selected as part of Army Innovation Day 2018 which called for innovative solutions for the next generation Army.

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A Tiger ARH on the deck of the LHD HMAS Canberra during the recent Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 deployment. (DEFENCE)

A request for information (RFI) for the replacement of the Australian Army’s Airbus EC665 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) was released to industry on July 1.

The RFI calls for submissions from industry for Project LAND 4503 which is seeking a total of 29 airframes to replace the Army’s 21 Tigers. It specifies that 24 aircraft will be operational at a single location, likely to be 1 Aviation Brigade (1Avn) at Robertson Barracks in Darwin, and five airframes will be assigned to training, likely to be at Oakey in Queensland.

Designed to “deliver armed reconnaissance efforts in close and deep contested battlespace”, the RFI calls for an initial operational capability (IOC) of one squadron of 12 aircraft in 2026, and a fully operational capability (FOC) to follow just two years later in 2028. It states that, at IOC Army will be able to operationally deploy a troop of four aircraft, and that at FOC, will be capable of generating 12 aircraft for deployment whilst maintaining a training system of five aircraft.

Chief of Army LTGEN Rick Burr is briefed on the AH-64D Apache at Exercise Talisman Saber 2019. (DEFENCE)

The specific details and ambitious timings outlined in the RFI suggest Army is seeking a near one-for-one replacement of Tiger with what it says will be a “proven and mature, off-the-shelf” capability, of which there are only two clear options available – the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian, and the Bell AH-1Z Viper.

It further suggests that, not only has the fate of Tiger as outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper been sealed, but it also overlooks possible next-generation capabilities such as those being developed under the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program which is expected to mature in the early 2030s.

The AH-64E is the latest development of the Apache family and is currently in production for the US Army, the UK and international customers. The AH-1Z is a marinised variant of the long-running AH-1 Cobra family and is also in production for the US Marine Corps and international customers.

It also suggests that value will be placed on the successful system being able to integrate and operate with unmanned systems such as that to be acquired under LAND 129 Phase 3 to replace Army’s Shadow 200, and the GA-ASI Predator/Reaper being acquired under the RAAF’s AIR 7003 program.

ADBR will feature an in-depth analysis of the Tiger ARH replacement program in the May-July issue of the magazine, due to be released in late July.

A US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper at Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. (DEFENCE)

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Australian Defence Business Review by Australian Defence Business Review - 1w ago

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Australian aerospace engine maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) provider, TAE Aerospace, announced at February’s Avalon Airshow that it is further expanding its military and commercial engine portfolio and maintenance facility footprint.

The company says it has acquired two US-based companies – Phoenix Arizona-based Copper State Turbine Engine Company (CTEC), and Kansas City Missouri-based Propulsion Controls Company (PCC) – acquisitions which have now made it the world’s largest authorised provider of Honeywell TPE331 turbine engine support.

The TPE331 is most commonly used on the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper series of remote piloted air systems (RPAS), of which more than 200 are in service in the US and allied nations. TAE is a member of the General Atomics Team Reaper which has been selected to provide about 16 Reapers or Certified Predator B/Sky Guardian derivate to the RAAF under Project AIR 7003.

In Australia, the engine is also most commonly used on the commercial Fairchild/Swearingen Metro 23 airliner, BAE Jetstream 31/32/41, CASA C-212, Cessna 441 Conquest, and the Mitsubishi MU-2.

“The market-leading engine and component MRO services delivered by our Adelaide operation have earned us a great reputation in our region, and we now look to take on the global market for this well-established engine across both Commercial and Defence operators,” TAE CEO Andrew Sanderson said in a statement.

“The synergies between PCC, CTEC and our Australian activities make these acquisitions a clear strategic fit that will generate immediate improvements for our operations and our customers around the world.

“The team in Kansas City has more than 20 years’ experience with the Woodward fuel control fitted to the TPE331 engine. As a trusted Woodward partner, we look forward to working with the OEM to continue servicing this complex fuel control system to keep customers flying for many years to come.

“Similarly, CTEC has an excellent reputation in the US as a quality engine maintainer. The 55-strong CTEC team has a real focus on the TPE331 engine, with a repair and reclamation capability that is the best in the world.  By combining all these capabilities under one company, TAE Aerospace is now strongly positioned in the global market as the world’s largest Honeywell-authorised provider of TPE331 engine support,” Sanderson said.

“As a member of Team Reaper Australia, we look forward to assisting General Atomics, Honeywell and the RAAF to support the MQ-9 RPAS that will be acquired under Project AIR 7003 in the next decade. CTEC already provides line maintenance training on the TPE331 to the USAF, RAF and GA, so when our US acquisitions are combined with our Australian capability we will be well positioned to support the platform in the future,” Sanderson said.

The acquisitions come just six months after TAE took over the operations of Victoria-based Kidde Aerospace and Defence Australia Pty Ltd (KADA), which made TAE Aerospace the only licenced overhaul facility in Australia, New Zealand and much of the region for certain United Technologies (UTAS) businesses.

These included some of the Army’s fleet of land vehicles including the M1A1 Abrams, ASLAV, Bushmaster and Hawkei. KADA also serviced a number of aircraft customers including Qantas, for which TAE Aerospace also supplies wheel and brake MRO services, as well as Virgin Australia aircraft, military transport helicopters and others.

The latest acquisitions mean TAE’s workforce now numbers about 320 people, making it Australia’s largest 100 per cent Australian-owned aerospace company.

Also announced at Avalon was the commencement of work on TAE’s upgraded engine test cell located at RAAF Amberley so it can accommodate the F-35 Lightning II’s P&W F135 engine.

Originally designed and built in the 1960s for the F-111C/G’s TF30 turbofan, the test cell was re-configured in 2010 for the F/A-18A/B classic Hornet’s GE F404, and the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler’s GE F414 engines. But with the F135’s greater weight, width, length and power, the cell will require a $24 million upgrade to accommodate the new engine.

The upgrade will include a new engine mounting and thrust measurement system, as well as a reinforced structure of the existing building. Major work is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, after which speciality equipment, electronics and engine control systems will be installed in time for the first scheduled F135 engine test run in April 2020.

“While the F404 and F414 engines are of similar weight and length and generate almost equivalent thrust, the F135 engine is a completely different beast. It is almost three times the weight, one and half times the length and generates more than twice the thrust of the F414,” Sanderson said.

“Upgrading our test facility to cope with the new F135 engine is one of several major activities underway on the engine side of our participation in the global F-35 program,” he added. “We are also building a $50 million state-of-the-art Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility in Bundamba.

“When complete, these state-of-the-art facilities will enable us to carry out engine maintenance, repair, overhaul, upgrade and test for all F-35 aircraft operating in the Asia Pacific region.”

“This is a terrific example of the strength of Australia’s defence industry, which has already won over $1.3 billion in production contracts as part of the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program,” former Defence Industry Minister Stephen Ciobo said in a separate statement.

“The new Engine Test Cell work will also benefit the local Queensland economy, with TAE Aerospace entering into a contract with Paynter Dixon Queensland for the construction phase of the project.”

This feature article appeared in the March-April 2019 issue of ADBR.

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(BOEING)

Boeing Australia Component Repairs (BACR) has announced it has received accreditation to conduct overhaul work on the rotor blade of CH-47 Chinook.

The capability of performing the work, which previously had to be shipped offshore, will allow a much quicker turnaround time and greater efficiency and flexibility for the Australian Army’s fleet of 10 CH-47F Chinooks.

“Until now, rotor blades have been shipped to the US for overhaul work,” Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) director sustainment operations, Darryn Fletcher said in a statement. “BACR’s accreditation provides customers with faster turnaround, enabling them to better maintain and restore airworthiness of these robust, multi-mission rotorcraft.

“Developing in-country capability also supplements BACR’s extensive portfolio of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services and provides another practical means for Boeing to minimise costs and deliver improved value-for-money solutions to our customers.”

Apart from Australia’s CH-47Fs, there are a number of other Chinook operators in the region, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and India, all of which could utilise the Australian operation as a primary or second source capability.

“While the Commonwealth of Australia will be the initial customer, this unique Australian MRO capability will enable BACR to service international CH-47 customers,” Fletcher said.

A rotor blade overhaul comprises composite structure repairs for damage ranging from lightning to bird strikes, and adds to Boeing Defence Australia’s existing CH-47 Integrated Support Services Contract (ISSC) which delivers training, engineering and maintenance support to the Australian Army.

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(DEFENCE)

Boeing Defence Australia and Airbus Australia Pacific have signed an MoU to extend the two companies’ arrangement on the sustainment of the RAAF’s fleet of 12 P-8A Poseidons beyond the initial transition into service.

The initial through life support (TLS) arrangement with Boeing and Airbus was signed in 2015 and is due to expire in October 2020, so this MoU positions the two companies for a possible extension to that arrangement beyond that timeframe once the capability has bedded down.

“The MOU signals our preparedness to deliver the future of the P-8A sustainment in Australia,”  director of Boeing’s Commercial Derivative Aircraft division, Scott Carpendale said in a statement. “Having sustained the RAAF fleet since 2015, the combined Boeing and Airbus Australia Pacific teams bring proven capability to provide ongoing support and training and assist the customer to scope and address future requirements.

“With the ISSC due to expire in October 2020, now was the time to assure the Commonwealth of our commitment to providing continuity of service.”

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Australian Defence Business Review by Australian Defence Business Review - 1w ago

Air Affairs CEO Chris Sievers (second from left) with Air Affairs and Schiebel Pacific officials. (SCHIEBEL)

by Jordan Chong

The Australian subsidiary of Austrian company Schiebel has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with aviation and engineering firm Air Affairs Australia (AAA) covering remotely piloted aerial systems (RPAS).

The MOU between Schiebel Pacific Ltd (SPL) and Air Affairs included an agreement to “collaborate on the compilation and submission of Request For Tender (RFT) responses for Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) opportunities in Australia and the Pacific region, as well as the subsequent close cooperation in contract delivery, support and services”.

“Building on our current contracts, we see enormous potential in Australia for Schiebel and our unrivalled CAMCOPTER S-100 RPAS due to several significant upcoming programmes and working with established Australian companies will be key to success,” Schiebel Group chairman Hans Georg Schiebel said in a statement on June 25.

“A strong physical presence through SPL and a MoU with a strong partner are logical steps in preparing for the tremendous opportunities in Australia, a nation at the forefront of embracing robotic technology and modernising its defence force.”

The MOU was signed on the same day Schiebel Pacific opened the doors on its new facility at Albatross Aviation Technical Park close to where Air Affairs Australia is based, as well as the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) HMAS Albatross.

Featuring a carbon fibre and titanium fuselage, the S-100 has a maximum takeoff weight of 200kg and a maximum payload capacity of 50kg, according to the Schiebel website. It has a maximum airspeed of about 130kt and is powered by a 50hp rotary engine.

The aircraft has beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200km. Able to fly fully autonomously, it can be operated from a pilot control unit with missions planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. High-definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time.

In late 2017, Schieber Group supplied its Camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to meet the RAN’s interim vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system (UAS) requirement. It also included three years of support services.

Further, the contract fulfilled a request for tender (RFT) for Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942, which sought to procure a “proven” VTOL Maritime Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System – Interim Capability (MTUAS-IC) and associated engineering and logistics support for the Navy.

Schiebel Group said the evaluation program aimed to develop the RAN’s understanding of the capabilities of an advanced VTOL Tactical Unmanned Air System.

“SPL is working closely with the RAN on achieving all the goals of the project, while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming tenders for LAND and SEA 129,” a company statement reads.

Also, Schiebel Group noted the Australian Army had contractually leased the S-100 to conduct a series of advanced payload evaluations. “The Army testing focuses on multiple payloads, including the L3 Wescam MX-10, ELTA Systems’ state-of-the-art ELK-7065 Compact Airborne HF COMINT/DF 3D System, Overwatch’s Multi Spectrum Imaging TK-5 and Leonardo’s PicoSAR radar,” the Schiebel statement said.

“The most recent S-100 activities will culminate in the participation in Australia’s largest joint high-end warfighting exercise, Talisman Sabre 2019.”

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AIRMSHL Mel Hupfeld makes a speech at the handover parade. (DEFENCE)

Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld officially took command of the RAAF from outgoing CAF, AIRMSHL Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies on July 3.

The change of command parade was held at ADF Headquarters at Russell Hill in Canberra, and featured flypasts from an EA-18G Growler, F-35A Lightning II, P-8A Poseidon, Falcon 7X, and a brace of PC-21s, all types which entered service during AIRMSHAL Davies’ four-year tenure as CAF.

In a moving farewell speech, AIRMSHL Davies thanked all of his commanders, peers, mentors and staff throughout his career for teaching him leadership, humility and accountability.

“I did not expect or set out to be CAF,” he told the assembled crowd. “I thought Wing Commander would be awesome, and a tactical command a bit of a stretch. People got me here – our air men, our air women, public service officers and industry partners shape me, and they shape us every day.

“I learned that this generation – that’s you, folks – you’re really good. And I learned that this generation should be given just a little bit more space. I feel a genuine respect for your values no matter how you label them; for your future focus and your risk model, because it’s got agility built in; your collegiate approach where diversity is accepted without question; and for your growing appreciation of the part that Australia can play in our region and in the world.”

AIRMSHL Davies joined the RAAF in 1979 and served as a navigator on P-3B and P-3C Orions. He completed pilot training in 1987 and in 1988 was posted to Amberley to fly the F-111C.

He flew an exchange tour on USAF F-111Ds from 1990 to 1992, and served as Executive Officer (XO) of 1SQN from 1997, Commanding Officer (CO) of 1SQN from 2002, and as Officer Commanding (OC) 82WG from 2004.

In 2006 AIRMSHL Davies worked as Director Combat Capability at Air Force Headquarters, before deploying to the Middle East Area of Operations to work in the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) there. In 2008 he returned to serve as Director General Capability Planning at Air Force Headquarters before being posted as Australia’s Air Attaché to Washington in 2010.

He returned from the US and assumed the role of Deputy Chief of Air Force in January 2012, before he was promoted to the role of CAF in July 2015.

AIRMSHL Davies presents AIRMSHL Hupfeld with the Sir Richard Williams’ sword during the ceremonial parade. (DEFENCE)

AIRMSHL Hupfeld moves across to CAF from the position of Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), a position he has held since July 2018. Upon assuming the position of CAF, AIRMSHL Hupfeld paid tribute to the work of his predecessor, and warned of uncertain times ahead.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Leo for his exceptional stewardship and leadership over the last four years,” he said. “Where he has continued to deliver on the work, the vision and the intent that previous chiefs have brought forward for our Air Force, and he’s carried that forward in such a strong way; tirelessly, with energy, with discipline and with continued focus. And he’s taken our Air Force, well and truly, on an irreversible path towards a fifth generation Air Force.

“We’re in the midst of one of the most significant transitions in our history – in the history of our times. And we’re facing some quite turbulent and uncertain strategic circumstances. We need to ensure that we’re able to meet the challenges that will come. To do that, we’ll ensure that we continue to reform, we’ll still focus and aim for continuous improvement, and we must always aim to be as efficient as we can in order to ensure that we can deliver effectively within the boundaries of the resources that we have. We’ve got great kit, there’s no doubt and what a wonderful fly pass to see some of the most recent additions.

“But the heart of our capabilities still remains our people. That’s where we get our true capability advantage. We need the right people, doing the right things, professional skilled, passionate and trusted and I make a key point that we’re not alone in this endeavour.

“We need to be and are part of a joint integrated and multi domain force. An Air Force poses capabilities that are inherently joint. Whether we’re supporting, whether we’re being supported or whether when necessary we’re leading, we need to focus and look at our capabilities across the whole of our defence force.”

AIRMSHL Hupfeld joined the RAAF in 1980, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 from the RAAF Academy. During his flying career he has flown the Mirage III0 and the F/A-18A/B Hornet, and qualified as a Fighter Combat Instructor (FCI) in 1989.

AIRMSHL Hupfeld has held command positions including CO 75SQN including on Operations Bastille and Falconer in 2003, OC 81WG, Director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre in the Middle East Area of Operations, Commander Air Combat Group (ACG) and Air Commander Australia (ACAUST).

He has also served as Deputy Director and Director Aerospace Combat Development, Head Capability Systems Division, acting Chief Capability Development Group (CDG) and Head Force Design in Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) Group.

In 2015 Air Marshal Hupfeld was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the Australian Defence Force in senior command and staff appointments.

New DCAF AVM Steve Meredith when he was Commander Air Warfare Centre. (DEFENCE)

The RAAF also welcomed a new Deputy Chief of Air Force, with AVM Gavin Turnbull handing over to AVM Steve Meredith on July 1. AVM Meredith comes to DCAF from his previous role as the Head of Force Integration.

He joined the RAAF in 1986 and graduated from the School of Air Navigation in 1987. AVM Meredith was initially posted to 37SQN at RAAF Richmond on the C-130E Hercules, before converting to the F-111C and serving with 1SQN at RAAF Amberley.

He has held the positions of XO of 6SQN, Staff Officer to DCAF in Canberra, Deputy Director of Combat Enablers in CDG, XO of 82WG, CO of 6SQN, and OC 42WG.

He also served as Battle Director US Air Forces CENTCOM Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC), Chief of Staff to the CDF, Deputy ACAUST, Commander Aerospace Operational Support Group (AOSG), and was the inaugural Commander of the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) before returning to CENTCOM as the Director of the CAOC.

In January 2016 AVM Meredith was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to Air Force Capability sustainment.

Outgoing DCAF AVM Gavin Turnbull will retire. (DEFENCE)

AVM Turnbull retires from the RAAF after 35 year of service. During his career he has flown the UH-1H Iroquois, MB 326 Macchi and F/A-18A/B Hornet, and has held the positions of flight commander at 75SQN, CO of 77SQN, Director Airworthiness Coordination and Policy Agency, and Chief of Staff Australian National Headquarters in Baghdad.

He also served as OC 81WG, Director Military Strategic Commitments, Director of the CENTCOM CAOC, Director General Air Command Operations and Director General Air, and ACAUST. He was appointed as DCAF in May 2017.

In the 2016 Australia day honours AVM Turnbull was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for exceptional service to the ADF in air combat capability development and support to military operations.

AIRMSHL Hupfeld (R) hands over command as Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS) to LTGEN Greg Bilton (L) on June 19. (DEFENCE)

Succeeding AIRMSHL Hupfeld as CJOPS is LTGEN Greg Bilton who assumed the role on June 19 after a brief tour as Commander Forces Command.

LTGEN Bilton graduated from the Royal Military College in 1986 and joined the Royal Australian Artillery Regiment. He has held command appointments as Battery Commander 104th Field Battery, Commanding Officer 4th Field Regiment, Commander 7th Brigade, Deputy Commanding General United States Army Pacific and Deputy Chief of Joint Operations.

In addition, he has served in staff appointments in the Directorate of Officer Career Management, the Directorate of Force Structure, and as Director General Development and Plans. He has also been an instructor at the Australian Command and Staff College.

LTGEN Bilton was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 2014 in recognition of his work as Director General Development and Plans at Army Headquarters and as Commander 7 Brigade.

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(UK MoD)

The UK’s Royal Air Force has flown the first operational missions with its new F-35B Lightning II.

The first mission was flown over Syria on June 16 by 617Sqn ‘Dambusters’ from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus where they have been deployed since late May. The first sorties were operated in company with RAF Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, and the RAF has acknowledged the F-35Bs have flown at least 12 sorties since then.

UK MoD images on Twitter show the F-35Bs being loaded with two laser guided bombs and two AMRAAMs in the aircraft’ internal weapons bay, and no external weapons, although it says no weapons have been employed.

“The pilots, crew and aircraft have exceeded all training objectives since deploying to Cyprus, so it was only right that they made the next step on their journey,” the UK Air Commander for the Middle East, Air Cdre Justin Reuter said in a statement.

“The UK has played a vital role in liberating swathes of territory once subjected to Daesh’s cruel regime, and the deployment of our newest and most advanced jets signals our commitment to the enduring defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.”

(UK MoD)

The RAF has received 17 of a total requirement for up to 138 F-35Bs. The aircraft will be jointly flown by RAF and Royal navy pilots, and are scheduled to embark upon the RN’s HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time later this year.

“This first operational mission for the UK’s F-35 Lightning confirms the impressive progress which we have made in introducing this formidable new capability into service,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said. “It is testament to the outstanding abilities of our dedicated and highly trained air and ground crew that 617 Squadron has achieved this important milestone so quickly and so effectively.

The RAF is the third F-35 operator to fly operational missions with the aircraft, after Israel and the US.

In other F-35 news, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has conducted a 9,000km rapid reaction deployment training mission from Edwards AFB in California to a range in the Netherlands.

The June 13 strike mission was conducted RNLAF pilots and two F-35As based with the joint 323rd Test and Evaluation Squadron (323rd TES) at Edwards AFB, and was supported by a RNLAF KDC-10 tanker. The mission was a key element of the Dutch operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) program.

“The approach of Rapid Reaction Deployment is that a number of F-35s can be deployed within 24 hours, self-supporting, flexible and worldwide to carry out missions, with support from tanker and transport devices,” a RNLAF release reads. “This can be carried out in an environment with a high threat, day and night and in all weather conditions.”

The two aircraft were delayed on the mission after the first tanker experienced refuelling problems. But after a replacement joined the mission in Canada, they crossed the Atlantic and dropped two GBU-49 GPS and laser-guided and two GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on a target of four containers on the Vlieland range with support from Dutch ground-based Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs).

After the mission, the two aircraft landed at Volkel Air Base in The Netherlands where they took part in an open days event on June 14 and 15. The mission was supported by a single USAF C-17A with 18 personnel to provide all maintenance, armament, life support and spares support.

RNLAF F-35As at Edwards AFB. (RNLAF)

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An RAAF AP-3C(EW) Orion, E-7A Wedgetail and P-8A Poseidon at RAAF Williamtown. The AP-3C(EW) is distinguishable from standard AP-3Cs by the deletion of the lower-rear fuselage sonobuoy tubes, and additional upper fuselage antennae. (DEFENCE)

The RAAF’s remaining two AP-3C Orions and their operating 10SQN have been transferred from 92 Wing (WG) to 42WG to better reflect their realignment as a specialist Electronic Warfare Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (EWISR) unit.

The two remaining Orions (as well as two RAAF C-130H Hercules) were upgraded with advanced electronic warfare systems by L3 in the late 1990s and early 2000s under Project Peacemate, but until recently the AP-3C(EW)s have not been publicly acknowledged by Defence.

But in the wake of the retirement of the rest of the AP-3C fleet in favour of the new P-8A Poseidon, retaining the two airframes until they are replaced by four Gulfstream G550-based MC-55A Peregrines in 2023 has become harder to justify. The P-3 celebrated 50 years in RAAF service in December 2018, although the AP-3Cs were delivered as new P-3Cs in 1984-86.

Officer Commanding (OC) 42WG GPCAPT Hinton Tayloe welcomed 10SQN into 42WG. “42WG is honoured to command 10SQN and its proven team of EW professionals,” he said. “Ironically, the Orion, given its 50 years of RAAF Service, still leads the way in our understanding of the deciding factor in air combat – electronic warfare.

“With the addition of 10SQN AP-3C(EW), 42WG now has two squadrons under its command – joining 2SQN, operating the E-7A Wedgetail based at RAAF Base Williamtown.” Despite 42WG and 2SQN being based at RAAF Williamtown, the AP-3C(EW)s and 10SQN’s personnel will remain at RAAF Edinburgh where the aircraft’s reduced sustainment footprint is located.

All 12 of the RAAF’s 12 P-8A – eight of which have now been delivered – will be operated by 11SQN and 92WG at Edinburgh. It is yet to be announced what unit will operate the new MC-55As, the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons or the MQ-9B Predator-B/Reaper unmanned systems.

The two 10SQN AP-3C(EW) Orions join the E-7A Wedgetails of 2SQN under the command of 42WG. (DEFENCE)

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