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Lockheed teams with Leidos to win $2.7bn missile detection contract

written by Adam Thorn | December 9, 2021

AIR6500 Phase 1 will provide the ADF with a Joint Air Battle Management System. (Defence)

Lockheed Martin has announced it will work with defence and technology firm Leidos to win a contract to revolutionise the RAAF’s ability to detect incoming missile threats.

The pair said they will specifically investigate using automated monitoring and secure coding in their bid for the Commonwealth government’s $2.7 billion AIR6500 Phase 1 project.

Lockheed Martin Australia is currently in the final two of the competition along with Northrop Grumman, having already seen off Boeing and Raytheon, which participated in the first phase of the evaluation process.

AIR6500 Phase 1 is designed to provide the ADF with a next-generation Joint Air Battle Management System (JBAMS), improving Australia’s ability to defend itself against attacks from aircraft and missiles from enemies.

Its development is due to huge and ongoing advances in technology from countries around the world, which are increasingly utilising smarter missiles, drones and new space technology. A final decision is expected in 2023.

Lockheed Martin AIR6500 program executive Steve Froelich said, “We are thrilled to build on those partnerships by teaming with Leidos Australia to combine our next-gen technology expertise with Leidos Australia’s tailored information technology services to deliver a revolutionary AIR6500-1 capability that will ensure the ADF can rapidly detect, deter and defend against evolving threats in the 21st century battlefield.”

Froelich pledged to integrate “best of breed” local technologies, adding that Leidos Australia’s advanced capabilities would help achieve a “truly sovereign solution”.

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Leidos Australia chief executive Paul Chase said it presented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for his business to transform Australia’s battle management capabilities “from the ground up”.

Upon announcing the two finalists in October, Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said, “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.

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

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Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price congratulated the finalists, which she said demonstrated the “best understanding” of Defence’s capability requirements and a strong commitment to support Australian industry capability.

“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,” Minister Price added.

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