Lockheed Martin will invest $74 million in a new initiative to encourage the industry to collaborate and research new technologies that can detect incoming missile threats.
The national integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) ecosystem could include a physical site at RAAF Base Williamtown and will proceed even if the prime’s bid to win AIR6500 isn’t successful.
AIR6500 is the name for the government’s $2.7 billion project to revolutionise the RAAF’s ability to monitor missile threats.
Lockheed is competing against rival Northrop Grumman, and the pair have already seen off Boeing and Raytheon in the first phase of the evaluation process, with a final decision due late next year.
The prime’s new investment would focus on two primary areas — a national IAMD centre serving as a physical hub, and an R&D pipeline to facilitate sovereign innovation through small and medium-sized enterprises, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities.
This would include supporting real-time feedback from warfighters, allowing Australian industry to develop solutions in response to changing requirements.
The initiative also seeks to “unlock powerful decision advantages” by leveraging advanced tools that “optimise tactics, investments and trade-offs”.
This would purportedly allow the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to “try before it buys” new capabilities.
Warren McDonald, chief executive, Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said the country is well placed to play a leading role in developing IAMD capability to defend against rapidly evolving threats.
“IAMD is a mission that spans all services and requires a high degree of integration to be effective,” he said.
“It is bigger than any one project, and the ecosystem is a mechanism that will provide the enduring aspect of Australian Industry Capability that is so often elusive.”
Kendell Kuczma, international business development director of rotary and missions systems for Australia and New Zealand, said the national IAMD ecosystem would enhance integration and interoperability across all warfighting domains, helping to improve situational awareness and supporting rapid decision making on missions throughout the Indo-Pacific.
“Our investment in industry capability development as realised through technology transfer and innovation will position Australia as a leader in IAMD and create global export opportunities for local suppliers,” she added.
LMA has recommended establishing the site at RAAF Base Williamtown, however, the “fully inclusive” facility would include a nodal output to provide “low-cost” access to remote sites.
The company has submitted the proposal to the Commonwealth government, adding it would proceed with the investment regardless of whether it is selected as the preferred tender for AIR 6500.