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…
Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 is classed as a MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV, though it’s smaller than competitors like General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron. The Hermes 450 is best known for serving as the basis for Britain’s Mk450B Watchkeeper program, which is currently Europe’s largest; meanwhile, the standard Mk450 version is serving as an interim contracted UAV with British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hermes 450 also serves in Israel, where it has achieved civil registration, and has been sold to a number of other clients. The nation of Georgia is one such, and the UAV made news again in April 2008 when a Russian MiG-29 shot down a Georgian Hermes 450. The drone was flying inside Georgian air space, very close to an international airway with civilian traffic. Despite this incident, the UAV’s record in Georgia is prompting strong interest in the drone from neighboring Azerbaijan. That Central Asian country is facing similar problems involving a seceding province that’s supported by the Russian government and military.
Back in Europe, Elbit Systems recently announced [PDF] a $20 million order from “a European country” for Hermes 450 UAVs, to be delivered in 2009 along with their accompanying ground control and display systems. The company also expects to test-fly its Predator-sized Hermes 900 model in late 2008 or early 2009, after a delay of almost a year.
MedImmune Vaccines, Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD is being awarded a maximum $28.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for influenza vaccine packages. Work will also be performed in the state of PA, for delivery to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 4 proposals solicited with 1 response. The date of performance completion is June 30/09. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (SPM2DP-08-D-0005).