The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has told companies shortlisted for its A$1 billion ($570million) "Project Echidna" electronic warfare (EW)self-protection system for fixed and rotary wing aircraft that it has terminated the programme.

The project was reconsidered by the Australian Defence Capability Committee (DCC) last week. Shortlisted contenders, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Systems and Tenix Defence Systems were told on 24 May that a new EW self protection strategy would be developed.

A strategy proposed by the DoD in January, involving replacing the common equipment project with a series of aircraft specific EW upgrades, has also been scrapped.

But, contenders have been told, that the DCC has approved in principle the establishment this year of an aircraft ballistics protection and essential countermeasures development programme.

The new project is being defined by capability development staff in the Australian Defence Headquarters with a business case to be considered by the DCC as part of the development of Australia's new defence white paper, to be released in October. The new requirement is worth around A$40-$60 million.

The decision to scrap Echidna is directly linked to DoD moves to reduce major equipment overspend, with the project put on hold in January. The suspension came despite shortlisted companies having concluded negotiations for a series of Initial Design Activity contracts with the Department at the end of October, with contract signing considered imminent.

Source: Flight International