Australia requests EoIs for forward operating base on Cocos Islands for MC-55A Peregrine EW aircraft

by Julian Kerr

Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has requested expressions of interest (EoIs) for the construction of a new airborne electronic warfare (EW)/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) forward operating base on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands to host MC-55A Peregrine EW aircraft.

Although the request does not explicitly state which aircraft the base will support, the project is part of the Air 555 Phase 1 programme for infrastructure relating to the introduction of the MC-55A Peregrine, a heavily modified version of the Gulfstream G550 business jet, at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh in South Australia.

A baseline G550 business jet. Four of these jets are being converted into special mission MC-55A Peregrine aircraft for the RAAF. Alongside their main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh, Canberra is also aiming to deploy these aircraft from three forward operating bases in Townsville, Darwin, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

A baseline G550 business jet. Four of these jets are being converted into special mission MC-55A Peregrine aircraft for the RAAF. Alongside their main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh, Canberra is also aiming to deploy these aircraft from three forward operating bases in Townsville, Darwin, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The DoD had told a parliamentary committee in August 2020 that the operating concept for the Peregrine fleet involves a main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh and three forward operating bases in Townsville, Darwin, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The islands are Australian territory some 2,750 km northwest of Perth and approximately halfway between the Australian mainland and Sri Lanka.

Canberra announced in March 2019 that it would acquire four MC-55As for AUD2.46 billion (USD1.91 billion) under Project Air 555, describing the Peregrine as a new airborne EW capability that would provide a critical link between Australian Defence Force (ADF) platforms. These include the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, naval surface combatants, amphibious ships, and ground assets.

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Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has requested expressions of interest (EoIs) for the constru...

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