The Commonwealth has announced that it will cancel the major elements of Project Air 5416, the electronic warfare self protection (EWSP) upgrade of Army’s Black Hawk helicopters.
The project is based around a preliminary EWSP upgrade and was to be followed by the fitting of the BAE Systems Australia designed ALR-2002 radar warning receiver (RWR). The first 12 Black Hawks will retain their interim EWSP which is being fitted at the moment and will result in a capability similar to that of Army’s six CH-47D Chinooks, but will not be fitted with the ALR-2002.
“Defence has reassessed the operational requirement and has determined that the fitting of additional electronic warfare self protection capabilities would have an adverse effect on aircraft availability,” Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, Greg Combet said in a statement. “Black Hawk helicopters are currently being utilised for a wide variety of roles for the ADF and it is vital that they continue to be available to fulfil these roles. Defence also advised the government that the return on investment involved in completing, installing and sustaining the advanced electronic warfare suite would not be justified given the remaining life of the Black Hawk fleet.”
The RAAF’s remaining eight or nine C-130H Hercules were also slated for the Echidna upgrade and this was completed last year, while the ALR-2002 had previously been slated to be fitted to the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B fighters, but this was cancelled several years ago in favour of Raytheon’s ALR-67(V)3 RWR.