The Royal Australian Air Force's Follow On Stand Off Weapon (FOSOW) requirement may be delayed by at least a year because of doubts over whether funding will be included in this week's federal budget for a series of risk reduction and aircraft integration studies.

The probable delay in funding is directly linked to a project re-evaluation as part of the development process for a defence white paper, due for release in October.

Five teams submitted bids for the initial phase of the competition.

Compliant responses came from Lockheed Martin, offering the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile; Israeli Military Industries and BAE Systems offering the Delilah Mk II and Goliath and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace with KEPD-350 Taurus variant.

Partial bids were submitted by Boeing offering the AGM-84H SLAM-ER, the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Raytheon's AGM-88 HARM Block 4; and Raytheon offering HARM Block 4 and a powered AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon. The partial bids included an executive summary and pricing, with technical responses placed in storage at the US embassy in Canberra.

While Australian defence acquisition rules would normally view the Boeing and Raytheon responses as non-compliant and automatically exclude them, but the Department of Defence has ruled the responses sufficient pending US State Department decisions.

A Raytheon Australia official says the company has subsequently secured export licences and has submitted its technical data. Boeing's status remains unclear.

The project schedule calls for a shortlist by the middle of this year and the awarding of funded project definition studies by year end. A restricted request for tenders (RFT)was to be released in mid-2001. The white paper review is expected to shift the shortlist to September, slipping the studies into Australia's 2001/2 budget, and the RFT to early 2002.

Source: Flight International