Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has signed an A$500m ($326m) contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to build the future Joint Air Battle Management System. 

The new system, which is being developed as part of the DoD’s AIR6500 Phase 1 (AIR6500-1) project, aims to provide the ADF with an integrated air and missile defence capability.  

It will utilise next-generation technologies to counteract high-speed threats effectively. 

The AIR6500-1 project, which involves an eight-year-long strategic partnership, is set to generate economic benefits, creating more than 230 new jobs in the country’s Adelaide, Williamtown and Canberra regions.  

The project is further expected to create an additional 300 indirect jobs within Australia’s air and missile defence supply chain.  

It also opens up opportunities for the Australian industry to tap into a global export market worth A$83bn. 

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As part of the project’s new phase, Lockheed Martin Australia will be responsible for providing essential command-and-control architecture to support integrated air and missile defence. 

This development will help in enhancing the ADF’s situational awareness to counter air and missile threats and bolster its interoperability with international allies. 

The project will include improved network architecture, deployable air-battle management systems, as well as initial integration with priority platforms including F-35A Lightning II aircraft and other major combatant ships.  

Additionally, AIR6500 will deliver four advanced air-defence radars from Canberra-based CEA Technologies, with delivery of radars expected to commence later this year. 

An Operator Evaluation System was also developed by Lockheed Martin Australia ahead of the AIR6500-1 contract signing, delivered on time and within budget, the company said.  

Using this system, ADF air battle managers can test and provide feedback on the design and functionality of AIR6500-1, which will guide future development work. 

Lockheed Martin will collaborate with several other companies including Boeing Defence Australia, C4i, Leidos Australia, Lucid Consulting Australia, Raytheon Australia, Shoal Group and Silentium Defence to deliver this project. 

Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Warren McDonald said: “AIR6500-1 will give Australia and our allies [a] greater level of connectivity and interoperability to counter current and future air and missile threats. 

“In a contested and fast-moving environment, AIR6500-1 will give decision makers more time to consider and respond to a situation – time in these circumstances is [a] precious commodity.”