Electronic Warfare: Australia's mixed record

As far as the author is aware there is no official history of Australia’s endeavours in indigenous Electronic Warfare (EW) projects in Australia, but if there was then the Defence Research Laboratories at Salisbury in South Australia would undoubtedly be the principle player, with some support from Australian Industry.

10th Mar 2010


Electronic Warfare: Australia's mixed record

The Situation

As far as the author is aware there is no official history of Australia’s endeavours in indigenous Electronic Warfare (EW) projects in Australia, but if there was then the Defence Research Laboratories at Salisbury in South Australia would undoubtedly be the principle player, with some support from Australian Industry. Attempts for Australia to achieve a degree of self-relaince started about 30 years ago. Regrettably the performance of the players, although earnest, was significantly limited by lack of financial support and direction from Defence at the time, whose interest appeared fixed on overseas suppliers and the US Government - the latter frequently through the US FMS organization - whenever a new product was required. The theme used for all major purchases was low risk, proven performance, secure delivery and sometimes a firm price (FMS excepted) - a formula that Australian Industry had difficulty eclipsing. But not infrequently the “idol had clay feet”.

During the period from 1980 until around 2006, the EW business looked good because the Royal Australian Air Force in particular realized that it owned a significant number of aircraft of different types that were either not equipped with EW self-protection or that the equipment that was installed was obsolete. Participation in the Gulf and Iraq wars brought that realization home to roost. This led to the rise of two EW favourites, Project Echidna and a collaborative activity with the US known as PA-10. The Royal Australian Navy was also becoming disturbed that its self-defence measures for capital ships were also bordering on obsolescence but remained largely inactive. Finally, the Army continued to invest in EW in a small way - mainly in sensor systems that complemented the development of a tactical, “force-centric capability”.

Beyond 2010, new opportunities for EW are clearly limited since new aircraft acquisition programs are based on complete packages, that include EW systems for self-protection. This is especially the case for purchases such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet.

The Navy has only five new capital ships being built in the near term budget and the selection of a truly indigenous company to satisfy the Navy’s EW needs is unlikely, though bit-part opportunities will arise.

The Army presents a different image, because it is pursuing the use of Industry in higher technology EW programs. The opportunities for small, smart, SMEs with strong EW skills are considered to be fair, but will be focused on the development of systems using almost all imported components. At least they will get involved in systems development.

So, indigenous development of EW self-protection systems in Australia is now past its nadir and it will fairly certainly follow the demise of other, now past, passions by Defence for things such as missiles (Malkara, Ikara, Turana target) and sonars (Mulloka, BarraBuoy, Karriwarra Towed array) - all initially Government Labs and Industry developments, which have left but a trace (Karriwarra, Barra Buoy and Nulka) after all those endeavours and a great deal of money.

Yet there are a small number of CTD and PA-10 projects that push EW higher-level technologies out into Industry. These projects are strongly supported by DSTO and Industry and their pursuit may one day lead to an EW project as fruitful to Australia as NULKA.

Origin of EW development in Australia

In the 1970’s the then DRCS was undertaking significant research into EW, particularly in EW subsystem technologies - such as RF systems and RF laboratory simulators - and studying EW systems under evaluation by Defence. It had also reached the stage where the then Department of Supply - the procurement powerhouse of the Department of Defence - considered that on the back of a successful teaming of Defence Research Laboratories and local Industry for the development of the IKARA shipboard mid-course guidance ASW system a cooperative arrangement on a similar basis for EW development made sense. The result of this was an “EW Cell” concept to be established in Industry to assist DRCS in its development and to facilitate the growth of EW technology in Industry.

Following an evaluation of Industry a contract was placed with EMI Electronics Australia to provide an acceptable team of engineers and a small secure facility on the DRCS area that would be isolated from the parent company - except for manufacturing services. The EW Cell operated satisfactorily for a number of years until EMI was sold to AWA Defence Industries, which itself was sold a few years later to British Aerospace Australia. The Cell provided the Australian origin of BAE Systems expertise in EW.

The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP)

Although the DSTO’s efforts in EW and other technologies are funded by Defence, that organization has for many years had access to classified R&D programs being carried out by its allies and also shares Australian Defence R&D information with them. The origin of the TTCP was a MOU established in 1957 between the British and US Governments to foster international collaboration in defence scientific and technical information exchange, program harmonization and alignment. Canada then joined, soon followed by Australia and New Zealand. The TTCP encompasses basic research, exploratory development and demonstrations of advanced technology developments..

Australia is a member of the Non-Atomic Military R&D Committee of the TTCP, along with Canada and New Zealand. Australia’s representative is the Chief Defence Scientist. The TTCP is not a financial vehicle for the establishment of collaborative efforts - this being provided through a companion Project Arrangement (PA) methodology. PA-10 is a collaborative EW program between Australia and the USA, with each party agreeing to the scope, funding and duration of its activity and the sharing of end product development.

Apart from the TTCP, other cooperative technical relationships have been established by Australia with the UK, France, and Sweden that provide an invaluable insight into EW and other related technologies - but these are more focused on applications.

Overview of major Australian EW Programs

1. Air Force Projects.

The only dedicated aircraft EW project to be under the control of the Air Force was the very ambitious Project Echidna. It covered a group of aircraft that were in service and which either did not have any EW self-protection capability or a capability that was obsolescent. Two other groups of aircraft were added: approved aircraft and future aircraft.

The aircraft to be fitted under Echidna were the C-130H, C-130J, Blackhawk, Seahawk, Chinook, and the F-111s. Although the Caribou was in service it was not included in this or any list that concerned aircraft EW. The AP3-C MPA was also not included as from the day it was introduced into service arrangements to maintain, modify and upgrade the aircraft were undertaken as a separate case. Similarly, the F/A-18 Hornet Upgrade Program was outside the scope of the project, although it was intended to be fitted with a common RWR supplied under Echidna.

Approved projects for aircraft that would be delivered with an installed EW system projects were the C-17, MRTT, Wedgetail and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. Future aircraft included the replacement of the AP-3C, with the P-8A mooted, the F-35 Lightning 11, and the HALE UAS. The original intention was that these aircraft would be delivered with an EW suite and, with the exception of the F-35, it was considered likely that the RAAF would have a considerable input into their EW systems.

From an EW perspective the inclusion of an Australian Industry input into the approved and future aircraft projects was evidently not discussed within Defence and once Echidna was complete the “pickings” for Industry would be reduced to maintenance and through-life support if not provided by the OEM or the RAAF.

AIR5416, ECHIDNA Project

AIR 5416 was a diverse multi-phase project, for the design, engineering, manufacture, installation, and support of EW systems for the F-111 (AIR 5391), C-130 H, C-130J (AIR 5394), Blackhawk, Seahawk, the Chinook and the F/A-18 HUG. The development of the DSTO/BAE Systems ALR-2002 RWR and its application to the above platforms was intended as a major common factor in Echidna. Echidna also included a Mission Support System (eventually directly procured by the RAAF), modifications to existing flight crew training simulators to include the functionality of the EW systems in each case and other support systems.

The stated objectives for Echidna were:

  • Maximum commonality across the fleet

  • Reduced TLS

  • Maximum AII

  • Introduction of the ALR-2002

Underpinning the acquisition concept for Project Echidna was the achievement of the best overall value for money while meeting the capability, contractual and other requirements. The involvement of DSTO was not evident. It is almost shameful to suggest, but it may be true, that Echidna was “invented” by the Department of Defence for Australian Industry to undertake an EW task that no foreign company would tackle.

Taking into consideration the diversity of the aircraft, although a common architecture might be achievable, the adoption of a completely common suite was always unlikely, except possibly for the ALR-2002 RWR as a common factor. Echidna commenced with an ITR that did not exclude involvement by overseas companies. ITT Avionics and Lockheed Martin responded and were then later excluded as participants, except through Australian Industry. These companies were later to drop out of the project entirely, probably because of a lack of opportunity to play a major role. The selected Australian companies were BAE Systems and Tenix Defence Systems, both of whom were uncontested, to carry out a 12 month funded Initial Design Activity as a precursor to the main part project .

The contractual phases were:

Phase 1 Stage 1 was for the full scale engineering development (FSED) by BAE Systems of the ALR -2002 as a key element of all the planned EWSP suites. Program planning for the ALR-2002 also included:

  • Its supply in Phase 2.3 of the Hornet Upgrade project, pending final EW negotiations for that project.

  • Foreshadowing in the FSED the introduction of a P3I program that would provide additional capabilities needed to ensure the operational effectiveness of the ALR -2002 to 2015

  • A production and support contract for four ALR -2002 units to prove their production processes for Echidna and Hornet Upgrade projects.

The importance of the success of the ALR-2002 to Echidna cannot be overstated.

Phase 1 Stage 2 involved an Initial Design Activity (IDA) conducted concurrently by Tenix Defence Systems and BAE Systems, as a cooperative team, over an 18 month period. The IDA focused on the design and costing of a common EWSP suite that could be tailored for installation in the range of Echidna-specified aircraft and was completed in December 2002.

Phase 1 Stage 3 involved the provision of ballistic protection measures for the Black Hawk helicopter. An ITR process conducted in the first half of 2004 resulted in the selection of a shortlist of companies, comprising Helitech, Raytheon and Tenix, to contest an RFT for the provision of 12 Black Hawk ballistic protection kits and initial logistics support. Tenders for the capability closed mid 2004.

Phase 2A focused on the detailed EWSP design for the Black Hawk and Chinook, with an approved budget of $241.185m (Dec 04). A $135.5m contract was awarded to BAE Systems in February 2005 for the design, development, integration and installation of an Electronic Warfare Self Protection capability for the Army’s fleets of Black Hawk and Chinook aircraft.

Phase 2A also was to include an Integrated Electronic Warfare Mission Support System, with an EW RF Stimulator, to be located at the JEWOSU, upgrading the Black Hawk Simulator, the provision of Simulated Maintenance Trainers and Maintenance Training Aids. The Initial Operating Capability (IOC) dates for the modified Black Hawk and Chinook aircraft were to be dependent on availability of aircraft for modification. .

Phase 2B was defined to use the work carried out on the earlier AIR 5401 Phase 3A activity by upgrading the system and installing it in all C-130H aircraft. A $25m contract was awarded to Tenix Defence Aerospace Division in December 2004 “for the integration and installation of an Electronic Warfare Self Protection capability to the fleet of C-130H Hercules aircraft”. An EW suite for the C-130J was not on the list at the time.

It was clear that BAE Systems was scheduled to get the lion’s share of Echidna. Tenix was reportedly miffed with the result, particularly as during the IDA activity both companies worked together as a team.

Evolution of the ALR-2002.

In 1991 DSTO studied the shortcomings of the Israeli ESM installed in the P3-C and this led to the consideration of a new RWR that reportedly could have wide application in RAAF airborne assets, including the F-111. A technology demonstrator was produced.

In 1996 AWA Defence Industries, enhanced by the acquisition of Fairey Australasia Ltd, and closely followed by the purchase of Thorn EMI Electronics Australia teamed with DSTO to develop a new RWR for the F-111, designated the ALR-2002. Completion of the ALR-2002 Full Scale Engineering Development was scheduled for end 1997, followed by flight testing in 1998. The ALR-2002 would replace the existing ALR-62(V)5-6, but would retain that system’s antenna installation subject to its functional suitability. A new cockpit display for the ALR-2002 would also be provided. The highly optimistic timescale should be noted. Variants of the F-111 ALR-2002 would be developed and supplied for other aircraft in the Echidna program.

Of passing note is that AWA Defence Industries (AWADI) possessed the unique, for Australia at that time, design capability and a foundry to produce low volume LSI and VLSI devices that may have been relevant to this ambitious development.

Two years later, in April 1998, AWADI sold its defence business, excluding the foundry and Barra Buoy, to the then British Aerospace Australia, thus creating the largest defence electronics company in the country. The ALR-2002 went with that sale and with it a longer timescale for the completion of the RWR’s FSED. (The foundry activities continued for some time including the manufacture of Bolometers, developed by DSTO. Little overseas interest was elicited in the ).

On reflection, the development of the ALR 2002 may have suffered, terminally, when its parentage changed and it became the victim of a “breach birth” for unstated reasons. But rumour was rife that the development of the RWR was beyond BAE Systems’ expertise, that the technology employed was out of date, relative to US systems, that funds were not available to update the design and that the system’s performance would not meet the specifications for each platform. This very important latter issue emerged and in efforts to control it variants for each platform were introduced. But this approach did not tackle or reduce the high cost of design, the physical and electrical integration and qualification of the EWSP installation in the various aircraft.

According to records, the ALR-2002 was successfully installed and put through ground functional testing in one F-111, but it is understood that flight testing to achieve IOC was not carried out.

In 2009 BAE Systems announced that the Ph.2A EWSP suite for the Blackhawk had successfully completed a series of critical flight trials at Woomera. The system configuration was the ALR-2002 RWR, the SBS EW Controller and the BAE Systems’ SIIDAS software suite, the AAR-60 MAW and the Vicon 78 CMDS, installed in a flight test pod developed by Tenix. According to BAE Systems’ reports the trials tested every aspect of the specified performance of the Blackhawk EWSP system, including CM testing and paved the way for Blackhawk aircraft flight trials, proposed for end 2009. It is not known whether the Blackhawk aircraft flight trials were carried out, but it is considered to be unlikely as at a critical momrnt on Sep 18, 2009, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science effectively pulled the “plug” on Echidna.

The Axe falls, Echidna is dismembered.
On Sep 18, 2009 Greg Combet announced that the Government had agreed to a Defence recommendation to reduce the scope for approved project AIR 5416 Phase 2 – EWSP for rotary wing assets:

“Modifications to 12 Black Hawk helicopters to provide a basic level of electronic warfare self protection, essentially similar to the EWSP fitted under Echidna to the Chinooks will be carried out. Five Black Hawk aircraft have been modified and the remaining seven aircraft will be completed before mid 2010.”

Development of the ALR-2002 radar warning receiver would be terminated as continuing the Phase would have an adverse effect on aircraft availability.

The return on investment involved in completing, installing and sustaining the advanced electronic warfare suite would not be justified given the remaining life of the Black Hawk fleet. Savings of $50m would accrue to Defence.
Installation of an EWSP and ballistic protection to the Chinook fleet for operations in Afghanistan has been completed to counter heat seeking missiles and direct fire weapons.
Project Echidna also included the modification of all 12 C130H aircraft by Tenix Defence to provide a missile warning, radar warning and counter measures dispenser capability.
The Minister stressed “that the performance of the prime contractor BAE Systems on the Echidna project had met all expectations and that development of the skills, capabilities and technology by BAE Systems during the conduct of the project will pay dividends for Defence and the company into the future. BAE Systems should be congratulated on its performance”.
"The C-130H modification program, the equipment fitted to Chinooks for operations, and an equivalent capability currently being fitted to some Black Hawks, has markedly increased the knowledge and capability of the ADF and Australian industry in the complex and sensitive area of aircraft electronic warfare self protection."

Programs originally destined to receive the ALR-2002 under Echidna

AIR5391. F -111 EW Upgrade

This project was established with the specific aim of completely replacing the existing EW suite using newer technology. The EW suite, like other avionics systems was installed under a successful Block Upgrade program. The EW upgrade included installations of the ALR-62(V)5/6 RWR, the ALE-47 CMDS, the Terma ALQ-213 EW Management Unit, and the Israeli podded EL/L-8222 countermeasures radar jammer, replacing the ALQ-94. It is understood that six ECM pods were purchased but all aircraft were wired for the pod. Under Echidna the ALR-62(V)5/6 would be replaced by the ALR-2002 at a later date

The target date for the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of this “final” system was the end of 2010.

AIR 5376. F/A-18 A/B HUG

The F/A-18 project office was committed to consider the inclusion of the ALR-2002 in Phase 2.3 of this project. But it was evident that the HUG Program Office kept one beady eye on the ALR-2002 development and the other beady eye on the AN/ALR-67 (V)3 installed and operational on USN F/A-18 C/D aircraft. This RWR was developed by Hughes Aircraft and was transferred to Raytheon’s EW facility at Goleta when the latter purchased Hughes’ defence. Raytheon completed development and production activities. The ALR-67 (V) was fully qualified for the USN F/A-18 fleet and today the (V) 3 version remains one of the most capable RWRs produced.

At an appropriate time the HUG Program Office, aided by the USN, Boeing and Raytheon, announced its preference for the ALR-67 (V)3 on the basis of performance, commonality with USN F/A-18 C/D aircraft and costs to integrate the ALR-2002. Under Phase 2.3 the A/Bs would receive the ALR-67(V)3, the ALE-47 CMDS and presumably would be modified to carry the EL/8222 RF jammer pod, purchased for the F-111, to complete the suite as the RAAF F/A-18A/Bs were not delivered with the USN F/A-18A/B ITT Advanced Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ) jammer. As it is believed that only six pods were purchased for the F-111 and if the EL/8222 is adopted for the post-HUG F/A-18 A/Bs a considerable number of pods will be required to service these aircraft. AIR 5376 Ph 2C and 3C cover the jammer requirement. Also under the HUG program the APG-65 radar was replaced by a much superior APG-73 radar that complemented the selected EW suite .

Noteworthy is the fact that the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, 24 of which are now being supplied to the RAAF, also carries the ALR-67 (V) 3 as part of its EWSP suite. This aircraft also is fitted with the APG-79 AESA radar that makes a major contribution to the attack and self-defence capabilities of the aircraft.

AIR 5394 EW SP for the C130-H

AIR 5394 predated the onset of Echidna owing to the specified operational use of the C-130H for operations in Somalia. Originally delivered without an EWSP capability, the RAAF acquired four EW systems and installed them under Project Apollo almost as an emergency measure. The RAAF rapidly found that these systems were virtually useless. The C-130H EWSP requirement was then embodied in Echidna covering the replacement of the defective “Apollo” suite for all aircraft. This task was carried out by Tenix Defence and an EWSP installed that comprised the Elisra SPS-1000(V)5 RWR, the AAR-47 MWR and the ALR-47 CMDS to counter SAMS at low altitudes.

An EWSP for the much later acquired C-130Js was not included in the original Echidna list.

AIR 5416 EWSP for Blackhawk and Chinook

Blackhawk

The Blackhawks were given a low cost, low performance upgrade under Project Gemini to equip them for operations in Cambodia prior to the onset of Echidna. Under Echidna several EWSP suite options for these aircraft were considered, according to records, but eventually the aircraft were defined to include:

  • EADS AAR-60 Missile Warning System

  • Thales VICON 78 CMDS

  • Commonwealth owned, BAE Systems produced ALR -2002 RWR.

  • Future installations: DIRCM and RF Jammer

EW System integration for both aircraft would be achieved by an SBS- supplied hardware EW Controller running on a suite of software developed by BAE Systems called Sensor Independent Integrated Defensive Aids Suite.

It is understood that the EADS AAR-60 MWS has been carried forward into the Tiger, MRH-90, NFH-90 and AP3-C

CH-47D Chinook

This aircraft is a critically important component of the operations of the Army as it fills a mobility gap between the large air transports and the battlefield. With the demise of Echidna the EW suite for this aircraft becomes an open issue with opportunities to fit an extant system, such as that installed in the MRH-90, and building on the AAR-60 MAW. Defence recently specified the selection of the CH47F Chinook. .

Beyond Echidna

Despite or because of the demise of Echidna, the 2009 issue of the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) clearly indicated that a policy of equipping all RAAF front-line airborne assets with an EWSP suite would continue across the ADF until complete.

Additional to the completion of the Army Black Hawk and CH-47D Chinook programs, implemented as Echidna activities, the 2009 DCP included:

  • Phase 4B1, for the incorporation of an RWR in the C-130H, and completion of all (12) aircraft with that system

  • Phase 4B2 for the complete EWSP suite for the C-130J. The USAF Large Aircraft IR Counter Measures (LAIRCM) for its C-130Js, based on the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-24(V) NEMESIS, was selected.

  • The announcement of the establishment of a new Joint Electronic Warfare Centre (JEWC) to manage force-wide EW issues. It also said that the role of the JEWC will be to establish an organisation that is expert in operator training, EW system R&D, particularly CM development and System Verification and Validation. The integration or independence of the JEWC with the JEWOSU, the involvement of the ADF, DSTO and Industry remains to be announced.

Consolidation of EW requirements for ADF aircraft.

The long-standing methodology adopted by Defence to identify project by Service (Sea, Air, Land or Joint, DEF followed by a number and carrying them forward in budgets and year provides an excellent means of identifying a project, when coupled with other related statistical information. But of itself the isolation imposed by this approach does not support the analysis of a specific technology such as EW to derive a common system and component architecture that may be beneficially applied across a number of projects, based on the operational roles of the aircraft. This can only be done using a technology-centric approach.

Echidna was a management attempt to combine the EW requirements of one segment of the ADFs diverse aircraft EW requirements to produce a flexible common system architecture. Echidna generally failed to do that possibly because there was too strong a focus on putting the ALR-2002 RWR on every platform on the list. It lost the broader project imperatives in the process. For example installing the ALR-2002 was a misfit in helicopters such as the Blackhawk.

Meanwhile, post Echidna, changes in the Defence acquisition practice have become very clear - where buying aircraft complete with an EW system has replaced the hoped for long- term asset of Echidna. The result of this is that, since Defence is unlikely to buy all its aircraft from one supplier, EW commonality is likely to disappear. So considering the above and assuming it is not to late to implement the following two tables look at the possibilities for commonality across each two classes of aircraft, loosely called “fixed wing” and “rotary wing” types. Within that framework an analysis has been made of EWSP equipment that would be likely to meet the broad operational requirements of the aircraft in each group. It is also important to note that EWSP equipment decisions that have already been made are factored into the equipment recommendations.

 

Table 1. Notional EW suites for Large, “Fixed wing transport” aircraft

Aircraft

C-130J (6)

C-17 (4)

MRTT (5)

Wedgetail (6)

Equipment Designation

EW component

 

 

 

 

 

LAIRCM

AN/AAQ-24(V)

MAW/ MWS

AN/AAR-60

MAW/MWS

LWS-20

RWR

AN/ ALR- 67(V) 3

ESM

 

 

 

ALR-2001

RFCM

AN/ALQ-214

CMDS

AN/ALE-47

FOTowed (RF) Decoy

 

AN/ALE-55

Notes:

1. (6) Denotes number of aircraft in service

2. LAIRCM. AN/AAQ-24 Northrop Grumman. Active IR/Laser missile countermeasures system. Standard on all USAF Large Transport Aircraft. Automatic operation. Believed to be selected for Wedgetail

3. Missile Approach Warner (MAW) AN/AAR-60 aka MILDS. EADS. Passive UV emission detection. May be used to cue other elements of an EWSP, e.g. CMDS. Standard on MRH-90 and Tiger, best bet for NH-90 .

4. MAW/MWS. LWS-20. Elisra. Passive laser emission detection. May be used to cue other elements of an EWSP.

5. RWR. AN/ALR-67(V)3. Raytheon. Passive RF system. May be used to cue other elements of an EWSP, e.g RF jammer and CMDS. Standard on USN F/A-18 C/D, RAAF F/A-18 A/B (Post HUG) and USN F/A-18 E/F.

6. ESM. ALR-2001 Elta. Standard on Wedgetail. Passive, high end RF system. May be used to cue other elements of an EWSP, but more often used to acquire ELINT/SIGINT information. Very high bearing accuracy and signal analysis. Standard on AP-3C and believed to be standard on Wedgetail

7. Integrated Defensive ECM. AN/ALQ-214 ITT. (IDECM) (RFCM) Suite

8. AN/ALE-47. Countermeasures Dispenser System. Cued by a range of EWSP sensors. One of a number of similar systems available.

9. Fibre Optic Towed (RF) Decoy. AN/ALE-55. BAE Systems USA. Replaces the older less capable ALE-50. Scheduled for installation on the F/A-18 E/F.

10.Unchecked boxes suggest no value in including the capability, except for MRTT where a deployed FOTD could interfere with refuelling activity.

Rotary winged aircraft

MRH-90 and Tiger ARH.

It might be said that the purchase of these aircraft sealed the fate of Echidna, for all were acquired with a complete EWSP of European origin. 24 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (Tigers) were ordered to provide a new battlefield capability for the Army, by replacing the time expired Bell Iroquois “Hueys” and the Kiowa Light Observation Helicopter.

  1. MRH-90s were purchased to replace the Army’s Blackhawks and the Navy’s Seakings. Recently Defence announced a decision to compete the acquisition of replacement for the Seahawks and Seasprites, between the NH-90 and the MH-60R. This decision negated a previous statement that Defence sought an essentially common aircraft for Army and Navy service.

The MRH-90 and NH-90 are essentially common aircraft, the MRH-90 for Army transport roles and the NH-90 for maritime defence roles as an extension of a host ship’s combat systems’ capabilities. These different roles are likely to result in some differences in the EWSP configurations.

System Components.

  • TWE. This system comprises RWR and LWR components, for automatic missile launch/approach detection, the outputs of which are connected to a central CPU that provides a tactical situation display to the crew and also generates command signals to a chaff/flare dispenser to launch either chaff RF decoys and/or flare IR decoys according to the detected threat. The TWE is a product of a JV between Thales supplying a 2-40GHz RWR and EADS supplying a Laser Warner that operates in Bands 1 and 2.

  • MILDS. Missile warning system sensors are distributed around the airframe to provide near-spherical detection of multiple threats and are optimised for the detection of UV threat emissions, generated particularly at missile launch and in flight in missile exhaust plumes. MILDS provides to the aircrew, threat approach angle, threat prioritisation and automatic countermeasures initiation. The system features a very low false alarm rate, high threat angular resolution and is capable of detecting up to six simultaneous threats.

  • Laser Warning Receiver. Functionally similar to the MILDS but designed to detect missile laser guidance signals.

  • CMDS. Dispenses flare and chaff decoys automatically when cued by a sensor, or on crew command.

Table 2. Rotary wing aircraft

Aircraft

MRH-90

ARH

NH-90

CH-47 Note 2

MH-60R Note 3

 

Equipment Designation

EW Component

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWE (Note 1)

 

 

MWS

 

 

AAR-60 MILDS

LWR

 

 

EADS

LWS (Note 4)

 

 

 

 

LWS-20 (V)-3

CMDS (Note 5)

 

 

Notes:

1. The NH-90 is considered likely to be fitted with the Thales TWE that is installed on the MRH-90 and the Tiger.

2 .The CH-47D. Defence has decided to replace the CH-47D with the CH-47F. It is considered likely that the aircraft will be fitted with the MRH-90 EWSP suite.

3. The MH-60R . This US multi-service aircraft is the latest Seahawk replacement and it is fitted with a large number of role dependent avionics and EW combinations. For USN, Seahawk replacement applications, Lockheed Martin, the combat system integrator, installs a multimode radar, acoustic sonar suite, long range IR camera plus detection, track and engagement of surface and subsurface contacts. For operations in Iraq the USN installed the ALQ-144 IR jammer, the AAR-47 EO MWS and the AAR-47 Chaff/Flare CMDS.

4.The Elisra LWS-20(V)3 is understood to be presently installed on the RAN’s Seahawk’s S-70B-2 helicopters The system may be carried forward into the selected Seahawk replacement, assuming suitable performance.

5.CMDS in following aircraft:.

  • MRH-90: ELIPS

  • NH-90: ELIPS-NH or SAPHIR-M.

  • Tiger ARH: SAPHIR- M CH/F1

  • Chinook: Current: US AN/ALQ-157 or ELIPS.

These systems generally tend to vary in size and mass, the types and number of cartridges that they carry and how they are controlled. General emphasis is on IRCM.

Other aircraft in the RAAF inventory.

AP-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft

This aircraft has been in reliable service for an incredibly long time, in a world-wide family of users. Upgrades to the P-3C have been a ”work in progress” almost continuously since it was first purchased in 1975, in what was referred to as the Update 2.5 configuration. There are 18 upgraded AP-3Cs in service - the designation recognizing the very large difference in the payload and performance of the Australian aircraft from the USN P-3C.

Concerning the EW capabilities of the aircraft, two interrelated projects, AIR 5140 and AIR 5276, both multi-phase projects, have been undertaken.

AIR 5140 Upgrade was primarily for the installation of the Israeli Elta ALR-2001 ESM beginning in 1989. The commissioning of this complex ESM took the best part of a year before it was accepted into service. The ALR-2001 provided an increasingly sought-after SIGINT capability for the AP-3C. Under later phases of the same project the ALR-2001 was further upgraded. AIR 5140 also provided a Software Support Facility an Operational Mission Simulator and Ground Support Equipment. The prime contractor for AIR 5140 was BAE Systems Australia.

AIR 5276, Capability Assurance Program is intended to assure that the aircraft will operate reliably, safely and satisfactorily through to 2015, the expected retirement date of the fleet. The systems to be replaced or upgraded include the Lockheed DMS-2000, (Data Management System), the Elta EL/M 2022 (V)3 SAR/ISAR radar, the CDC Acoustics processor a new FLIR Systems EO/IR, Link 16 TADIL, Honeywell fully integrated navigation and Raytheon’s Integrated Communication System for HF/VHF/UHF communications. The project also addresses Pre- and Post-Mission Support in the JEWOSU and related situation awareness assessment for RF threats. The project is managed by the P-3 Accord comprising Australian Aerospace Systems, BAE Systems, and DMO.

Other than the ELTA ALR-2001 ESM little knowledge of the EW capabilities of the AP-3C are public, but considering the fact that the aircraft was widely used for land surveillance in Iraq and similarly is now being used in Afghanistan it can be reliably assumed that it will carry an EWSP at least of the calibre of the MRH-90 EWSP, i.e the Thales TWE a Missile Warner and a CMDS. It is not known whether such an EWSP would be a fleet fit.

F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet

The 24 Super Hornets that Defence has ordered will be delivered with the same EW configuration as the USN aircraft. The USN configuration comprises the ALQ-165 Advanced Self-Protection (RF) Jammer, the AN/ALR-67(V) 3 RWR (also fitted on the F/A-18A/B HUG model) and the AN/ALE-50 Towed RF Decoy. It is not known whether the aircraft also carries IR and laser warners to combat SAMs.

Future aircraft programs

The following future aircraft purchases are also on the table:

  • F-35 Lightning 11, or an increased number of F/A-18 E/Fs

  • F/A-18 E/F Growler

  • P-8A replacement for AP-3C

  • HALE UAS/ BAMS (Global Hawk or Mariner?)

  • Caribou Replacement

F-35 Lightning 11.

The EW suite for this aircraft is understood to comprise:

  • the APG-81 AESA radar to provide a Stand-off RF jammer capability.

  • the AAQ-37 Defensive Aids Suite that provides a missile warner capability. Six IR sensors are distributed around the aircraft to provide a near spherical IR detection capability.

  • the AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda Passive Radar System (PRS), developed by BAE Systems that provides sensor fusion of RF and IR tracking functions and includes data links that form part of the Northrop Grumman-developed Communications, Navigation and Intelligence (CNI) suite.

The PRS provides basic radar warning, and multispectral countermeasures for self-defense against threat missiles, situational awareness and high-sensitivity electronic surveillance. Sensors are placed at 10 locations: on the wings' leading edges (6), trailing edges (2), and on the horizontal stabilizer's trailing edges (2).

Future development of the EW suite is expected to address an integrated network and exploitation functions.

F/A-18G “Growler”.

The E/A-18G is the US Navy's replacement for the aged EA-6B Airborne Electronic Attack aircraft in the USN inventory and the EF-111 in the Air Force inventory. The EA-18G utilizes the successful carrier-borne F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft to provide a modern RF EA capability at very low additional cost. At the same time the role of the F/A-18 E/F from which the E/A-18G is derived is preserved as the aircraft are stated to be >90% common by retaining everything in the F/A-18 E/F except that the two wing tip stations will carry receiving antennas and the fuselage-mounted gun will be replaced with avionics boxes containing the LR-700 receiver and satellite communications, which interface with the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System pods. In the conversion process the F/A-18E/F structure is largely retained.

The EA-18G will provide full-spectrum electronic surveillance and electronic attack of hostile threat radars and communications nets, operating autonomously or as a major node in a network-centric operation of other aircraft by providing accurate emitter targeting for employment of onboard suppression weapons such as the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).

The latest versions, or new systems, of the EA-6B ALQ-218, ALQ-99, USQ-113 Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) are installed in the EA-18G.

Importantly, the two-seat version of the EA-18G allows an EW operator to make a real time assessment of the tactical situation and control the functionality of the EW suite to perform Electronic Warfare/Electronic Attack functions either simultaneously or independently. The provision of an equivalent capability in the F-35 Lightning 11 is not known, but the inclusion of a second seat would represent a significant change to the airframe and is considered to be unlikely with the advent of the Growler.

The EA-18G is now entering USN carrier fleet service and Defence, although presently uncommitted to the adoption of the EA-18G, is considering low-cost funding of the installation of harnesses and similar items in a number of F/A18 E/Fs on order, preparatory to a future decision to acquire the EA18-G capability.

PA-8A Poseidon MMA

The PA-8A is under development by Boeing as a replacement for the venerable P-3C.

On 15 June 2004 Boeing Integrated Defence Systems (IDS) was awarded a sole source USAF contract for the Component Advanced Development (CAD) Phase based on its offer of the B737-800ERX aircraft, but fitted with the B737-900 wing. This approach followed Boeing’s established practice of selecting an existing commercial platform and beefing it up as necessary for military use.

The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.  

Being aware of the longer term plan to retire the RAAF’s AP-3C fleet, around 2015, Defence was invited by USN/Boeing to participate in the development of the P-8A, but declined this invitation, possibly due to cool feet on the F-35 Program. It is understood that the RAAF follows the P-8A program assiduously, as it is likely to become the world-wide choice to replace the P3-C.

The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8As to replace its fleet of P-3C aircraft. The first aircraft began formal flight test in 2009 and initial operational capability is slated for 2013.

On Jan. 1, 2009 Boeing signed a contract with the Government of India to provide eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian navy. The P-8I is a derivative of the P-8A designed specifically for the Indian Navy.

Australia has also bought into the program and the RAAF is understood to be involved in its spiral development with a view to eventually acquiring 8 of the aircraft.

The program has a long way to travel before the EW suite for the aircraft is finalized, but in several respects the EW suite for the Wedgetail aircraft is relevant, particularly the in the areas of ESM, SAM IR and RF self-protection. The installation of a towed decoy, such as the ALE-55 is also considered to be likely. As one of the most experienced operators of this class of aircraft the RAAF is likely to define the composition of the EW suite and other sensors for its application.

Of major significance is the Raytheon APY-10 radar, the antenna of which is mounted in a slightly extended nose. The radar is optimized for maritime, littoral and land surveillance and includes “ultra-high” resolution imaging modes for all operational scenarios. The AP-10Y is a development of the APS-137 radar.

HALE UAS

The acquisition of a HALE UAS has been on the Defence agenda for as long as the acquisition of a replacement for the AP-3C, and until about a year ago they were on the same schedule. But for reasons of “acquisition overload” the Government took the UAS off the shopping list for a number of years. The Defence White Paper 2009 suggests that that “up to 7” UASs will be required, but not before 2019.

There are two HALE UASs that merit consideration, the Global Hawk and the Mariner.

The Global Hawk is a design said to be drawn from the manned U-2 and the Mariner is a development of the smaller highly successful Predator.

  • Global Hawk.

The USAF role of the aircraft is surveillance and it has not been fitted with a missile payload, but it is able to provide highly accurate position and characteristic data of ground and maritime threats of all classes. In-Flight aircraft navigation is provided by INS and GPS from a mission program developed in the MCE. The current build standard of the aircraft is understood to be Block 30.

Global Hawk is fitted with an Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) that consists of the following subsystems:

  • A high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)

  • Optical and IR sensors to provide wide angle and spot mode

  • Imagery of ground and maritime origin

  • Sensors to acquire electronic intelligence data

  • Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR)

Each of the sensors provides a selectable wide area search imagery mode and a high-resolution spot imagery mode. The SAR also has a ground moving target indicator (GMTI) mode that outputs moving target position and velocity, as required, Wide Area MTI, Combined SAR/MTI, SAR Spot mode and Sea surveillance mode. The Optical and IR sensors share common optics and a common gimbaled, stabilized platform that is also able to carry the Advanced Signals Intelligence Payload, SIGINT, package The sensors can be selected to operate separately or collectively with the SAR. SAR, Optical and IR imagery are processed onboard the aircraft and transmitted to a remote Mission Control Centre as individual frames. The MCE can mosaic these frames into images prior to further dissemination.

The HISAR sensor integrates SAR-MTI with optical and IR imagery and processes these data to provide digital imagery that is transmitted to the Mission Control Centre.

An LCE that manages all launch and recovery functions is normally remotely located. The EW Self Protection (EWSP) capability is provided by the AN/ALR-89 integrated EW Suite that can be configured to provide warning of both radar and laser threats. For the Global Hawk it is understood that the ALR-89 configuration comprises the AN/APR-49(V) RWR that provides detection of pulsed and CW radars, threat ID and DF and the AN/AVR-3 LWS to provide laser homing threat missile location. The AN/ALE-50 RF Towed Decoy provides deception of incoming threats using RF homing. The radar characteristics of a threat detected by the APR-49 are sent to the decoy that transmits them to the missile being decoyed to provide facsimiles of the waveforms it generates.

Global Hawk is in a state of almost continuous spiral development to meet new application demands and the needs of new customers. Two examples are:

  • The USAF’s Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program which is planned to fit a MESA radar. If successful, this radar will provide the aircraft with a high altitude air early warning capability at a range beyond the capability of Wedgetail.

  • The Luftwaffe’s “EuroHawk” will be fitted with an EADS reconnaissance payload, including a SIGINT package, enabling the paying off of the aged Breguet Atlantique electronic surveillance aircraft. This sensor package, a first for the Global Hawk, is in the form of six wing mounted pods. The aircraft was first rolled out in October 2009.

Global Hawk served in the Iraq war and is in service in the Afghanistan confrontation, with tasking from the USA in each case. Whilst the service it provides in the Afghanistan theatre is of critical value, the aircraft losses have been considerable as a function of the hours flown.

Broad Area Maritime Systems (BAMS) UAS.

This program may provide the rationale for the selection of the HALE UAS described above. It is included to augment the above description.

BAMS has suffered from a number of hiccups but in April 2008 the RQ-4N Global Hawk was selected as the platform for the program and Northrop Grumman was awarded a US$.1.16b contract to develop the UAS requirement. The SDD phase delivery date is anticipated to be in 2012 and the IOC is planned to be 2015. The BAMS UAS will complement the Boeing Poseidon P-8A program.

The BAMS UAS requirement was also competed by a Lockheed Martin team offering the Mariner, a derivative of the Predator. Like Global Hawk, but less intensively, Mariner has been trialled off the Australian Coast by the DSTO.

“The BAMS UAS will be a forward deployed, land-based, autonomously operated system that provides a persistent maritime ISR capability using a multi-sensor mission payload (maritime radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and basic communications relay). The BAMS UAS air vehicle is based upon the United States Air Force (USAF) RQ-4B Global Hawk, while its sensors are based upon components of (or entire systems) already fielded in the DoD inventory” (US DoD)

Caribou replacement

The Caribou has now been retired after some eight years of prevarication. The 2009 White Paper announced that Defence seeks ten fixed wing aircraft to replace the DHC-4 Caribou which was formally retired in November 2009. /p>

In 1997, three companies responded to the RFT to supply 12-18 Light Tactical Aircraft. They were CASA offering the C-295 or CN-235-300, IPTN offering the C-235-330 and Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport (LMATTS) the C-27J. All of the aircraft were capable and in service at that time.

 

APDR at a glance