Australia Begins Army Anti-Air Capability Study
In June 2006, Australia’s former Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson released the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) 2006-16, which outlined more than A$ 51 billion of planned capital equipment proposals. At the time, one of the projects slated for likely investment after 2016 was the Australian Army’s A$ 750 million – 1 billion Ground Based Air Defence capability project to replace the country’s current force, which relies on man-portable RBS-70 anti-aircraft missiles.
On July 9/08, the Australian Department of Defence issued a global solicitation to industry to be part of a preliminary capability study for “Ground-Based Air and Missile Defence (GBAMD) systems and technologies” under Project LAND 19, Phase 7.
At this stage, the range of threats is very wide, from rockets/ artillery/ mortars to UAVs, enemy aircraft and cruise missiles; ballistic missiles are not included. Responses would outline potential air defense system capabilities that may be considered, including information about indicative performance; systems integration; strategic and tactical mobility; supportability; manning and training; simulation; and indicative pricing…
Work is being managed by Aerospace Concepts Pty Ltd., and parties are invited download the full solicitation from their web site and register interest in the capability study. Submissions would be due by Sept 1/08, with the report itself planned for the end of October 2008. This is not part of a down-select, and there is no commitment to proceed further, but individual submissions may receive follow-up inquiries and questions as the Australian DoD considers its future options and lays the groundwork for a possible RFP.
The solicitation specifically notes that directed energy weapons could fall within this study’s purview, but the reality is likely to be more mundane. Countries like Estonia and Britain are augmenting short-range air defense missiles with command and control networks that fold dispersed, short-range missiles into a larger network, with individual stations able to see what the entire network sees and play a role in coalition systems. These are essential capabilities under the new solicitation.
Meanwhile, short-range air defense options have exploded. The RBS-70 itself can now fire the updated Bolide missile, offers mobile launch options, and has been networked into larger systems. Competitors in the future short range missile space include MBDA’s popular Mistral, Thales’ Mach 4 Starstreak, and new entries like Diehl BGT’s IRIS-T SL/SLS based on its air-air missile. This is also a popular theme in the short-medium range anti-aircraft space, which includes options like Israel’s Spyder (Python 5 and Derby 4 missiles), Raytheon’s SL-AMRAAM which is intended to replace the US Army’s FIM-92 Stingers with a longer range netted system, and MBDA’s vertical launch MICA. At the highest end, but still within the potential purview of the solicitation, sit offerings like MBDA’s SAMP/T using its Aster 30 missile, or the USA’s Patriot and MEADS systems.