Page 97 - Australian Defence Magazine Dec 2018 - Jan 2019
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on track to occur in 2022. Although not a milestone towards FOC, an RAAF P-8A successfully fired an inert ATM-84J Har- poon anti-ship missile during RIMPAC 2018, held off Hawaii in July.
On the debit side of the ledger, the RAAF’s ageing but effective Lockheed AP-3C Orion will be withdrawn from service in December, 50 years after the first entered service.
Air 7003
Although it didn’t surprise anyone, an an- nouncement in November also confirmed that Defence will acquire the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper to fulfil its requirement for an armed medium altitude lone endurance (MALE) re- motely piloted aircraft system (RPAS).
The $1-2 billion Project Air 7003 Phase 1 had been flagged in the 2016 White Pa- per and between 12 and 16 aircraft will be acquired, depending on negotiations with General Atomics. The exact variant of the Reaper/Predator family has not yet been de- cided, but it will be either the MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper currently in production for the US Air Force, or the MQ-9B Skyguardian (pre- viously known as the Certifiable Predator B) now under development for the UK.
The Reaper will be acquired through the sole-source supply methodology outlined in the recent First Principles Review because (according to Defence Minister Christopher Pyne) it was best-suited to Defence’s needs.
No decision has been made on where the aircraft themselves will be based, but the ground control segment will be located at RAAF Edinburgh. The first Reaper is ex- pected to arrive in the 2020-2021 period, with an entry into service in 2022-2023.
Air 8000
Defence’s Battlefield Airlift Aircraft project, Air 8000 Phase 2, celebrated an important achievement in February, with the delivery of the 10th and last Leonardo (formerly Ale- nia Aermacchi) C-27J Spartan to Australia.
A further milestone was set to occur in the December 2018/January 2019 time- frame, with the relocation of 35 Sqn from Richmond to its new home at Amberley. Significant infrastructure works have now been completed at Amberley to accommo- date the 10 Spartans and the project is on track to achieve FOC by the end of 2019.
Although it doesn’t have an ‘Air’ label any longer, the ADF’s Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) Joint Project
9000 Phase 7 began the first ab-initio courses for Army and Navy pilots and air- crewmen and Navy Aviation Warfare Of- ficers (AvWOs), in January 2018.
The industry prime for HATS is Boeing Defence Australia and training is conduct- ed at Nowra by the Joint Helicopter School within Navy’s 723 Sqn, using the Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ helicopter.
The courses, which began in January (pilots and aircrewmen) and February (AvWOs), formed part of the Validation and Verification testing and the successful candidates graduated during September. The V&V activity will lead up to the dec- laration of IOC by the end of 2018, but an announcement to this effect had not been made by the time this edition of ADM closed for press.
Air 5428
The fixed-wing equivalent of HATS is Proj- ect Air 5428 Phase 1 (Pilot Training System), which is replacing civilian-operated CT-4s in the Basic Flying Training and the Pilatus PC-9/A in the Advanced Flying Training roles with a new all-through training system.
The PTS will make increased use of syn- thetic training aids and simulators and the live component is based
on the Pilatus PC-21.
Although the project
was running at least
six months behind its
published schedule ear-
lier this year, Defence
and an industry team
(Team 21) led by prime
contractor Lockheed
Martin has now man-
aged to claw this time
back and Air 5428 is again on schedule for the first ab-initio course to begin at East Sale in January 2019.
By the end of November Pilatus had de- livered 26 of the 49 PC-21s on order and the first aircraft painted in the new ‘Roulettes’ markings were formally unveiled by the Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies in Canberra in October. The Roulettes are scheduled to undertake their final major public display with the PC-9/A at Avalon, before converting to the PC-21 during the course of next year. A detailed account of the Air 5428 program will also appear in the February Avalon issue of ADM.
Air 5349
The Boeing EA-18G Growler airborne elec- tronic attack capability being delivered un-
der Project Air 5349 Phase 3 also recorded milestone events during 2018, including the first appearance at a Pitch Black air combat exercise.
Three Growlers participated in Pitch Black 2018, held in the Top End in July and August as part of their progression towards IOC, which was due to be announced be- fore the end of the year. Final Operational Capability will follow in 2022, but the program suffered a setback in January with the loss of one of the 12 aircraft in the US. The Growler was participating in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, when an uncontained engine failure led to a high speed rejected take off and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair by the subsequent fire. A decision on whether the aircraft will be replaced had not been announced by the time ADM closed for press.
Air 5438
The RAAF’s BAE Systems Hawk Mk.127 Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance (LIFCAP) program achieved what is ar- guably its penultimate milestone on Oc- tober 25 with the induction of the final aircraft into BAE Systems’ upgrade facil- ity at Williamtown.
Formally known as Project Air 5438 Phase 1A, the LIFCAP began in 2016 and adds simulated radar and electronic warfare capability, digital mapping, ground prox- imity warning system (GPWS) and traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) to the RAAF’s 33 Hawk Mk.127 aircraft.
In the new configuration, the RAAF’s Hawks are upgraded to a similar configu- ration as the UK’s Hawk T.2 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft. The final aircraft to be upgraded will be handed back to the RAAF during 2018.
Although most of Defence’s major ac- quisition projects will be in the Sea do- main in future years, there will still be plenty of activity in the Air projects world in the short-term and 2019 will be see more milestones achieved. | December 2018 – January 2019 | 97
“The Poseidon achieved IOC in March, five months ahead of the original schedule and Final Operational Capability (FOC) is on track to occur in 2022.”

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