Australia’s A$ 1B+ P3 Accord Support Program
In November 2005, the Australian Government, Tenix Defence and Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace (AA) have signed the P3 Accord Master Agreement to provide capability upgrades and Through Life Support (TLS) for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The three parties have established a Joint Management Office (JMO) to supervise all Accord activities under a unique risk-sharing contractual arrangement. The JMO will develop and implement all RAAF AP-3C capability upgrades and TLS solutions through to the aircraft’s planned withdrawal date – at which point it will likely be replaced by the 737-based AP-8A MMA.
The combined value of the TLS and block upgrades to the aircraft is expected to be more than A$ 1 billion, and the project is moving on to a new phase – even as some of the efforts that led to the most recent announcement win Australian awards…
- Australia’s AP-3C Programs [updated]
- The AP-3 Accord
- AP-3 Accord Updates [updated]
Australia’s AP-3C Programs
TLS responsibility. The alliance will develop and implement all needed logistics support solutions through to the AP-3C’s planned withdrawal date. An Industry Plan will be developed to foster the role of small and medium-sized enterprises, providing niche expertise to the fleet. A comprehensive workforce development and sustainment program will be established.
In addition to the TLS responsibility, Tenix (now BAE systems Australia) and EADS Eurocopter Subsidiary Australian Aerospace will manage a number of upgrade programs, including:
- JP 2070 Lightweight Torpedo EuroTorp MU90 LWT integration
- AIR 5418 Follow on Stand-Off Weapon. Contenders include Lockheed’s JASSM, EADS’ Taurus 350, and Boeing’s Harpoon-derived SLAM-ER. AIR 5418 will also equip the RAAF’s F/A-18s and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Australian Aviation had an excellent analysis of the contenders, and the tactical employment of these types of weapons [PDF format | Google HTML cache]. In the end, Lockheed Martin’s JASSM was picked – but this weapon is not currently integrated with the P-3.
Other upgrades will include:
- AIR 5276 Ph 4 Electronic Warfare Self Protection
- AIR 5276 Ph 5B Electro-Optics Integration
- AIR 5276 Ph 6 Data Links
- AIR 5276 Ph 8A & B ESM Update
- MIS 886 Acoustic Data Collection and Recording System, and
- MIS 554-P3 Crash Data Recorder
Tenix has been involved in the support and upgrade of the P-3 Orion since the mid 1990s, including the RAAF’s much-criticized Project Air 5276” modernization effort as well as other activities. Australian Aerospace has been the deeper maintenance provider for the P3 Fleet since 1993 and was the prime integrator for the Royal New Zealand Air Force Kestrel Program, which successfully extended the life of the RNZAF P-3 Fleet.
The AP-3 Accord
The P3 Accord Master Agreement is designed to encourage increased co-operation among the parties and other defense companies currently supporting the AP-3C Orions, fostering better co-ordination while delivering greater efficiencies and results. “Rather than Tenix working on a specific project brief in relative isolation while another contractor works away on theirs, we will now have a real sense of shared purpose. This bodes extremely well for the successful completion of the large volume of work to come,” said Tenix Defence CEO Mr. Robert Salteri.
In that respect, the Accord is part of a larger global trend of risk-sharing, public-private partnership, performance-based whole life support contracts that include the US/British C-17 sustainment partnership, British E-3D Sentry AWACS Whole Life Support Program, Canadian CP-140 (P-3) Optimized Weapon System Management program, et. al.
In its response to DID, however, Tenix noted that this contract’s model is a development of a traditional infrastructure Alliance contract arrangements with the usual pain/gain share and capped up and down side risk. In this case, a range of performance KPIs are also applied over the top of the normal pain/gain arrangements. Tenix characterized it as similar in nature to the Anzac Ship Alliance model, but with greater allocation of risk to the two commercial companies and away from the Commonwealth.
To date, Tenix notes that industry partners have recruited more than 100 highly skilled engineers and trades into the P3 Accord, and an additional 200 people will be required to complete the block upgrade over the life of the program.
AP-3 Accord Updates
July 5/10: Australia’s DoD signs a new 3 year, A$ 136 million contract with Qantas Defence Services for ongoing maintenance and support of the RAAF’s 12 C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft. The work includes T56 turboprop engine support for both C-130H Hercules and AP-3C Orion aircraft.
The new contract continues an arrangement that has been in place since 1999, and will support 200 jobs based at RAAF Base Richmond. Australia DoD.
July 28/09: Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), BAE Systems Australia and Australian Aerospace sign an $A 31.1 million (about $25.5 million) contract to enhance existing AP-3Cs under the P3 Accord. The planes will get improved Electro-Optic/Infra-red systems, Tactical Common Data Links, and upgrades to ground-based support systems. This would appear to be AIR 5276 Ph 5B & 6; see also Dec 15/08 entry.
The program will create 50 civilian jobs at its peak, and the refurbished planes will enter service in 2011.
The upgraded system will build on earlier interim designs installed to support Orions deployed to the Middle East for overflights of Iraq and Afghanistan. At present, Australia’s 18 AP-3Cs generally operate from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia. At present, 2 of them are currently operating from an undisclosed base in the Middle East. Minister’s release | 9MSN Australia
Sept 3/08: Australia’s DoD announces that the RAAF’s Edinburgh, Australia P3 Accord project team took home the major Project Management award, as well as the Malcolm Kinnaird Engineering Excellence Award at the South Australian Engineering Australia Achievement Awards. Civil investment and infrastructure projects in South Australia usually win these awards; indeed, this is is the first time that a Defence Aerospace project has won.
The P-3 Accord team won the award for quickly buying, integrating, testing and fielding the AP-3C Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL), delivering it very quickly and under budget. This was just a small project, but it led to the Aug 15/08 announcement that TCDL will be introduced on all AP-3C aircraft under the AIR 5276 CAP1 project.
Aug 15/08: Australia’s Minister for Defence announces the beginning of AIR 5276 Capability Assurance Program 1 (CAP 1), a A$ 68 million program to equip the whole AP-3C fleet with modern electro-optic/ infrared sensors, a high data-rate communications system with other ships and aircraft (tactical common data link), and a replacement video recorder system. Aircrew training and engineering support will also be provided. Ministerial release.
May 14/07: Australia’s DoD announces an A$ 76 million (currently about $63.3 million) contract with BAE Systems Australia for an upgrade to the AP-3C Orion’s Electronic Surveillance System (ESM). The contract requires BAE Systems to replace existing subsystems and associated ground support systems.
The upgraded system will enter service in 2011, and will remain operational until the current planned withdrawal date of the AP-3C.
Dec 21/06: Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace, and the Australian Government sign a 9-year, A$ 201 million (about $160 million) contract for deeper maintenance of the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The AP-3C fleet is based at RAAF Edinburgh and the work is carried out at RAAF Bases at Richmond (near Sydney) and Edinburgh (in Adelaide). Australian Aerospace has been performing the Deep Maintenance of the RAAF AP-3C fleet since 1993.
This P3 Standard Support Contract signed today will further expand Australian Aerospace involvement and support of the Platform. At present, there are around 140 Australians working on AP-3C Orion maintenance, and the new contract will result in a further 40 new skilled positions at RAAF Edinburgh and 10 new skilled positions at RAAF Richmond. Eurocopter has been very active in Australia over the past years, becoming the number four Australian defense contractor in terms of turnover. See EADS release | Australia DoD release.