The Australian government has fast-tracked the acquisition of a short-range ground-based air defence (GBAD) capability for the Australian Army by granting First Pass Approval for the Land 19 Phase 7B project.
Announced on 10 April, the approval includes the release of a single supplier limited request for tender (RFT) to Raytheon Australia, with the company to act as the prime system integrator (PSI) for the new capability, which is earmarked to cost up to AUD2 billion (USD1.5 billion).
Defence minister Marise Payne said the project is the first step in the development of the army's contribution to the Australian Defence Force's (ADF's) Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) programme announced in the 2016 Defence White Paper. The ADF's IAMD capability comes under the umbrella of Air 6500, which seeks a new joint battle management system for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and a medium-range GBAD capability.
The army's new short-range GBAD system will replace the RBS-70 very short-range air defence system (VSHORAD) that has been in service since the late 1980s and provide the inner-most layer of air defence for deployed forces against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and missiles. It will be operated by the army's 16th Air Land Regiment (16 ALR).
The sole source RFT will be released to Raytheon Australia in the first half of this year and cover the development of the Raytheon-Kongsberg National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) to fulfil the short-range GBAD requirement. NASAMS is fielded by seven nations, including the US, where it is used in a homeland air defence role.
Raytheon Australia told Jane's that the system would be an 'Australianised' version of the baseline NASAMS 2 that will make use of a common launch rail able to fire the Block II AIM-9X within visual range air-to-air missile and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).
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