Babcock Australia has promised its bid for the Army’s LAND 2097 Phase 4 program will see 95 per cent of the helicopters’ repair and maintenance work undertaken in Australia, writes Stephen Kuper.
This firm says its plan will generate $326.6 million in economic benefits and create 178 new jobs, as well as helping small businesses across the engineering, training and simulation industries.
Babcock has been competing against Airbus Australia Pacific and Hawker Pacific for the lucrative project after the Commonwealth released a brief looking to acquire up to 16 helicopters in the four-tonne weight range for use by Special Forces.
Babcock chief executive David Ruff said the Australian industry capability (AIC) commitment was integral to Babcock Australasia’s strategic focus of building Australia’s defence capability and capacity.
“We recognise the importance of supporting Australian innovation and developing and enhancing local skills, knowledge, systems, technology and infrastructure to meet Australia’s defence capability goals, create jobs and support economic growth,” Ruff explained.
“The plan for acquisition is supported by an integrated capability model, Babcock’s Australian Industry Development Office (AIDO), which enables major suppliers and SMEs alike to maximise their current capability and grow that capability for future resilience.”
The AIC plan comprises 12 Australian SMEs in addition to educational institutions and community organisations.
The SMEs include Airspeed Composites, Bend-Tech, Craig International Ballistics, Eagle Copters Australasia, FlightSafety International, HeliMods, L3Harris Technologies, Logistic Engineering Services, MMC Learning and Development (MMCLD), Omni Executive, Praxis Aerospace and Virtual Simulation Systems.
Executive director, strategy and future business, Graeme Nayler, said the expertise and experience of Babcock’s AIC network was essential to its LAND 2097 Phase 4 response.
Nayler explained to Australian Aviation, “Our Defence work, including bids for new contracts such as LAND 125 Phase 4 Field Equipment, JP 9101 Enhanced Defence High Frequency Communications System and LAND 2097 Phase 4 Special Forces Helicopter Capability, has a proven track record of partnership with Australian suppliers and communities.
“Our local SME partners offer specialist capabilities that are vital to our Defence offering, from maintenance, repair and overhaul, ballistics protection, and targeting systems, to logistics support, engineering services, simulation and computer-based training,” Nayler expanded.
Together with its AIC network, Babcock will be leading the customisation program for the Bell 429 Global Ranger to meet the capability required by defence as part of LAND 2097 Phase 4.
As part of the partnership, Babcock’s AIC plan will see a range of benefits, including building partner capability, jobs creation and economic growth, including:
Coffs Harbour-based Eagle Copters Australasia will receive the aircraft, re-assemble, and provide ongoing maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) on the helicopter and communications system in Australia.
Eagle will maintain a trained workforce to be positioned to provide surge staffing to Defence bases or deployed locations as required. Eagle will work with Babcock to create two apprenticeship opportunities in Coffs Harbour; one airframe and engine and one avionics.
“Part of the offering for 2097 was focused heavily on the end user, accordingly Babcock has worked heavily with the special operations community, and particularly Army to deliver the best outcome for both defence and AIC,” Nayler said.
“Defence is looking for a low-risk solution, which has resulted in a COTS platform that can be militarised to meet the specific requirements, this is why Babcock with Bell to offer the 429, which will draw on extensive domestic industrial capabilities to meet the unique and stringent end user requirements.”
Babcock’s AIC plan will see the transfer of training technologies from L3Harris Technologies to Babcock Australasia and Cobham Aviation Services in Australia, to enable support during acquisition and ongoing training for installation and line maintenance of the EO/IR (electro-optical/infra-red) turrets.
Babcock is committed to transferring the skills to Australia to contribute to the development of the Sovereign Industry Capability Plan as it applies to LAND 2097 Phase 4 from ‘day one’.
Gold Coast-based Craig International Ballistics (CIB) is a 100 per cent Australian owned SME and a leading supplier of body armour to the ADF and police forces. The company will design the armour concept for the Bell 429 helicopter, including 2D and 3D renders.
CIB will assist Babcock with LAND 2097 Phase 4 from design to end of armour end-of-life disposal services. All materials will be manufactured on the Gold Coast, and additional up-armour proposal to include the rear passenger compartment was also designed and is available if required.
“In building on our established commitment to Australian industry, we also work with Indigenous-owned and operated businesses, support veteran employment as well as provide backing for STEM initiatives in schools, universities and TAFEs,” Nayler told Australian Aviation.
Based in Brisbane, Praxis Aerospace is a veteran-owned company that provides specialty engineering services for aerospace programs.
The company will assist Babcock in the acquisition contract for LAND 2097 Phase 4 by providing the required certification for electromagnetic environmental effects (E3) systems safety, human factors and airworthiness.
During the acquisition program, Praxis Aerospace will need to employ new staff in Sydney, and will provide five staff in the delivery of specialities engineering services and supporting activities such as the C-17 Load trials and a future flight of class flight trial.
Nayler added, “Babcock has a fully evolved AIC plan meeting with the stringent expectations identified by Defence and government, that benefit is provided by the fact that while having a global parent company, Babcock Australia is an entirely Australian owned entity.”
Babcock Australasia is a 100 per cent Australian company, employing over 1,100 Australians and New Zealanders. Operating across the defence, emergency services, and oil and gas sectors, we support our customers’ technical, program and complex platform requirements through our proven processes, systems and people.
A subsidiary of Babcock International Group, we are proud to help keep our nation secure, our communities safe and the country moving, using Babcock’s specialist skills and knowledge to facilitate our clients’ operational requirements.
“The AIC value is not just in the existing proposal, Babcock is expecting additional requirements through the life of the capability, which will see Babcock draw on the experience and expertise of its Australian SME partners to ensure that special operations command and Army’s mission requirements,” Nayler said.