Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plans to upgrade the electronic warfare self-protection (EWSP) suite equipping its Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornets fighters have been shelved despite being given high priority in Australia's defence white paper last December.
Shortlisted contenders ITT and Lockheed Martin Sanders were told last week that the project was being suspended. No resumption is likely until later in the decade.
This, however, will be preceded by a revised requirements study in the middle of next year. The RAAF had hoped to correlate the upgrade with a parallel US Navy one, baselined against the same EWSP requirements planned for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The project had a nominal value of between A$80 million ($42.9 million) and A$100 million. Funding from the programme will be divided between the RAAF's A$2.03 billion airborne early warning and control acquisition and a planned F/A-18 airframe structural refurbishment.
The defence white paper identified structural upgrades and "initial improvements" to EWSP as part of multi-stage upgrade requirements planned for completion by 2007. These are necessary to retain the F/A-18s in operational service until at least 2012.
Source: Flight International