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Defence down selects two for AIR 6500 Joint Air Battle Management System

Air Surveillance Operator, Leading Aircraftman Nathan Rourke monitors the airspace at No 3 Control and Reporting Unit. Photo: Defence

The Australian Department of Defence has down-selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia to continue to the final stage of the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) for the ADF’s new $2.7 billion Joint Air Battle Management System in Project AIR 6500 Ph.1.

“Through the competitive evaluation process, Australian industry has demonstrated its versatility and adaptability to provide innovative proposals in the challenging field of Integrated Air and Missile Defence,” said Minister for Defence Peter Dutton.

“The Joint Air Battle Management System will connect our ships, aircraft and other capabilities together in a way that multiplies their defensive power.”

“Defence found the down-selected companies demonstrated the best understanding of its capability requirements, as well as a strong commitment to developing Australian industry capability,” said Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.

“I look forward to seeing the advanced technical solutions and prototypes that will be developed as these companies refine their final offering for the Joint Air Battle Management System.”

The CEP will select an Australian company to lead the delivery of the Joint Air Battle Management System and provide the core architecture of Defence’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defence capability.

Lockheed Martin Australia has committed to establishing an AIR 65000 hub in the NSW Hunter region if it wins the prime contract. This will likely be at RAAF Base Williamtown which is the service’s F-35 operations and training hub and also home to the ADF Warfare Centre and HQ of the RAAF’s Surveillance and response Group.

Northrop Grumman Australia hasn’t disclosed a lead site for its AIR6500 effort as yet, but it has a broad footprint in Australia’s high-technology eco-system and is prime contractor for the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) as well as its Short-Range Defence: Forward Area Air Defense/Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Command and Control (FAAD/C-RAM C2) systems.

Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia also participated in the first stage of the competitive evaluation process, and will continue to be involved in developing the Joint Air Battle Management System and supporting the Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program.

The successful strategic partner for the Joint Air Battle Management System is expected to be announced in late 2023.

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