Royal Australian Air Force Boeing F/A-18 Hornets are likely to be equipped with the BAE Systems Australia-developed ALR-2002D radar-warning receiver, with the Australian government giving the company preferred supplier status for the electronic warfare self-protection (EWSP) upgrade.

Final Australian Department of Defence decisions on the Hornet EWSP upgrade, designated Project Air 5376 Phase 2.3, will be made by September, in parallel with decisions on whether to buy the ALR-2002 for the RAAF's General Dynamics F-111 fleet.

The Australian government has approved fitting the ALR-2002 to army Sikorsky S-70A-9s and Boeing CH-47Ds, with BAE Systems Australia selected as the lead contractor for rotary-wing aircraft under the Project Air 5416 Echidna electronic warfare self- protection programme.

Tenix Defence Systems has been selected as the preferred contractor for the upgrade of EWSP systems on eight RAAF Lockheed Martin C-130Hs.

The S-70-A9 and CH-47D contract is expected to be worth A$200 million ($134 million), while the Tenix contract is estimated at A$50 million. Contract negotiations are scheduled to begin soon.

The DoD had hoped to appoint a single prime contractor for both requirements. The head of electronic systems acquisition in the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation, Shireane McKinnie, says the decision to split the awards rather than appoint a single prime contractor "should ensure a competitive and viable aircraft electronic warfare self- protection capability based in Australia for the longer term".

She describes BAE Systems' preferred supplier status for the Hornet EWSP upgrade as "a vote of confidence in the Australian industry's capacity to design, develop and integrate complex electronic warfare systems into frontline combat aircraft".

Source: Flight International