The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has cancelled a A$220 million ($120 million) air combat manoeuvring range project on the eve of a contract signing with Cubic Corporation.

Cubic was selected for the project more than 18 months ago and has been carrying out extensive risk mitigation studies for the DoD. Teams from Cubic and principal electronic warfare subsystem provider Amhurst (bought by Northrop Grumman in early 2000) were in Canberra in early December to finally sign a purchase contract.

But the DoD's Capability and Investment Committee met in an unscheduled session on 12 December and elected to terminate the project, with all funding to be redirected into Australia's Project Wedgetail airborne early warning and control programme.

The decision has sent shock waves through Australia's defence industry, because the project was widely expected to be the lead programme for the country's revised forward capability efforts after the release of a new national defence white paper on 6 December.

The white paper did not, however, identify the project as being included in the new five-year Australian defence spending programme.

Source: Flight International