PETER LA FRANCHI / CANBERRA
The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO)is considering an internal report recommending acquisition of the BAE Systems ALR-2002B radar warning receiver for the Royal Australian Air Force's Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighters.
The report follows what RAAF sources describe as "impressive" flight trials of a full-scale engineering development ALR-2002B on an upgraded F/A-18 late last year.
RAAF sources say the ALR-2002B suite was integrated into the F/A-18's avionics system by Hunter Aerospace, a wholly owned BAE Australia subsidiary.
Only 12 ALR-2002B flights were planned, but this was extended to more than 30h at the RAAF's request to allow additional testing of the ALR-2002, combined with the upgraded fighter's Raytheon APG-73 radar. Initial trials took place at RAAF Williamtown, north of Sydney. The additional trials were located at RAAFTindal, south of Darwin. Tindal is used to support flying operations at the Delamere Weapons Range, which hosts the electronic warfare range originally located at Crow Valley in the Philippines before the US withdrawal.
The DMO and RAAF have been jointly exploring replacement of the F/A-18's Raytheon ALR-67. In 2000, the DMO shortlisted ITT and Lockheed Sanders (now BAE North America). However, in February 2001 the project was shelved because of budget problems.
Any DMO recommendation to acquire the ALR-2002B would require ratification by senior defence committees and the government.
The ALR-2002 began life as a research programme by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation more than a decade ago. Variants of the core system are also at various stages of development by BAE Australia for potential application to RAAF's General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft and Sikorsky S-70ABlack Hawk helicopters.
Source: Flight International