Australia signs BAMS agreement

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The US Navy is to delay the release of tenders for its broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) unmanned air system requirement until mid-February, to enable the modification of bid documents to meet unique Australian requirements for the system, writes Peter La Franchi.

Canberra signed an agreement on 13 January to participate in the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of BAMS.

US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is advising contenders that the delay is intended to allow the request for proposals to be modified to meet "USN requirements, as well as options to address Australian-unique objectives".

Australian-specific requirements focus on the development of the integrated ground environment and ground support system - a role expected to be carried out by an Australian-based company, but with both USN and BAMS prime contractor inputs.

Additional requirements include requests for alternative sensors able to support combined wide-area land and maritime surveillance, electronic intelligence systems, and an alternative communications architecture.

Australian industry officials expect any delay to the US programme will cause a reciprocal delay in the planned release of a tender for a local industry partner to integrate BAMS into the Australian defence force's command, control and intelligence architecture. This had been due for release in mid-February and to close on 4 April, with a contract expected within two years.

NAVAIR is advising BAMS contenders that "formal agreement to proceed with SDD co-operative development activities involving Australia is not expected until after the BAMS unmanned air system selection".