Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR March 2015 Contents A MK 48 ADCAP torpedo is unloaded from the
fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760).
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by John Narewski/Released
be the result of a fair and proper assessment; not a
pre-ordained answer. It would be duplicitous for a
publication and all those others who joined in chorus
to argue for a competition amongst the submarine
platform providers but to not do so amongst the
submarine combat system providers.
There is no question that the US AN/BYG-1 is a
good C2 system. Like other C2 systems, ISUS-90 and
SUBTICS included, it will have both its pros and cons.
But in recognition of Lord Chancellor Eldon’s view that
“truth is best discovered by powerful statements on
both sides of the question”, it is necessary to approach
analysis of the US system, now that it has been
nominated as ‘preferred’, with some strong challenging
statements in an attempt to restore balance.
The starting point must be the reasoning behind
Defence preferred C2 system choice. Obtaining their
reasoning would have been somewhat difficult if it
weren’t for the fact that Senator Conroy gifted APDR
readers with the answers when he invited Defence, on
notice, to articulate the benefits of the AN/BYG-1 “over
others that may be available to Australia”.
Their answers are provided below with strong truth
LEVERAGING OFF INVESTMENT
One of the reasons Defence is keen to stick with the
system that it currently uses on Collins is to leverage off
the investment already made.
Unfortunately Defence has revealed that, from the
commencement of the program in 2002 to May 2012,
the taxpayer had spent $528.6 million on the US C2
System alone. This writer has worked in the Combat
System domain for three decades and can attest to the
simple fact that this number is outrageously expensive.
It’s easy to spend money; it’s much more challenging
to spend it wisely.
And therein lies the value of competing systems' It
would allow them to be benchmarked and an objective
value for money assessment made. The last time the
BYG-1 (at the time being offered as CCS Mk2 by
Raytheon) was benchmarked, in 2001, it was found
to be wanting. According to DSTO’s Dr Todd Mansell
“The DSTO evaluation indicated that the performance
of the STN Atlas system had a margin of about 30%
over the Raytheon system”. Has the circa $600
million spent to date put the BYG-1 in front? Has the
spend yielded results? Defence owe it to their ‘citizen’
shareholders to find out, particularly noting the pressure
being put on them by Treasurer Hockey to tighten belts.
One thing for sure is that having spent a lot of money
on something is not, nor should it be, an acceptable
justification for continuing with it. If it were we would
still be working to bring Super SeaSprites into service,
operating LCM2000 watercraft and the RAF would be
persisting with MRA4 Nimrod’s.
Announcing a preference for the BYG-1, rather
than throwing the question forcefully to the market,
also serves to erode much of the negotiation leverage
that Defence might otherwise have had with its US
counterpart (and might be important for putting
‘jointness’ back into a purportedly joint program – more
on this below).
CAPABILITY INSERTIONS AND
Defence also professes there is benefit in sticking
tightly with the BYG-1 because of “the structured and
enduring continuous improvement model employed by
the US” in support of the system.
For a number of years the US Director of Operational
Test and Evaluation has been critical of the BYG-1
performance with respect to both target localization
and ineffectiveness in supporting operator awareness
in areas of high contact density. Noting these are
core C2 system capabilities, it would appear that this
particular continuous improvement program has not
easily and quickly achieved this.
Whilst Defence is in a good position to benchmark
each version of combat system software delivered to it,
just focusing on “capability insertions” is introspective
and dangerous. It is not some historical version of itself
that our submariners will fight in war.
Even if Defence has a strong view that the BYG-1 is
the best solution (and it may well be), surely it has an
obligation to both the citizens it will help safeguard and
the sailors that will sail in the future submarine to get
the best capability the nation can afford. Benchmarking
potential systems such as BYG-1, SUBTIC, ISUS-90
and the Japanese ZYQ C2 System is a sensible and
rational means of removing the guesswork.
The next reason put forward by Defence for giving the
BYG-1 preferred C2 status is ‘weapon interoperability
and strategic alignment’ and more generally,
On the weapon side of things this has been shown to
be a false differentiator. In all of the Harpoon examples
cited by Senator Xenophon at Estimates, a German
ISUS-90 combat system is used as the C2 system with
interfacing software and hardware provided by Boeing.
In one of the instances where Mk 48s are found on
German designed submarines, namely Brazil’s Type
209s, the German C2 system has been replaced by
a US origin C2 system. This is not the case for the
other instance. Turkey’s Type 214 will have ISUS-90. It
must also be recognised that the French, who offered
Scorpene submarines fitted with SUBTICS to Turkey,
were not excluded from tendering in that market by the
Turkish Navy’s selection of the Mark 48 torpedo.
It has been claimed that our decision to use
US weapons in our submarines mandates a US
combat system. Why was this not the case for the
aforementioned nations that have selected US weapons
and had them integrated with a combat system of their
choice? Even for future weapons such as Tomahawk!
These weapons are found on UK submarines, which
have a BAE origin combat system, and also on Spanish
S-80 submarines, which have a Navantia based C2
system, albeit developed with some assistance from
With weapons set to one side, we now turn our
minds to data sharing and communication. Systems
should allow data to be shared through NATO Standard
mechanisms such as Link 11, 16 and 22, found on both
European and Japanese naval vessels. Other situational
awareness and command appreciation tools such as
GCCS-M are not combat system dependant; notably
this system is used on the RAN’s ANZACs which have
the Swedish 9LV combat system.
Whilst it must be recognised that common training
and logistic support approaches are useful from
an interoperability perspective, they can hardly be
classified as critical in the big scheme of things.
‘Interoperability’ is about interface protocols, not
about having the same equipment.
Once again, competition will open the Navy’s eyes
to the possible.
ONGOING JOINT DEVELOPMENT
Defence’s answers to Conroy placed importance upon
“the ongoing joint development” of the system.
Getting a definitive statement from Defence on how
they have been able to influence the ‘joint development’
program is almost impossible. David Gould came
close in 2013 when in response to a question by
Senator Fawcett he stated, ”It is a joint program, but,
to be honest, we are quite clearly a junior partner...
we have to use our junior partnership to influence
the American program as best we can. Although it is
joint, the priorities are always going to be more heavily
influenced by the senior partner in the program”.
More recently a question from Senator Xenophon
asking how much Defence has spent on Australian
companies BYG-1 program participation as a
percentage of the total BYG-1 spend revealed the
answer “substantially less than one per cent of the total
amount paid to the US Government”. Hardly ‘joint’!
The reality is that Australian/US ‘joint-ness’ in
the BYG-1 program scores an ‘F’. This statement is
Over the past four years there have been a number
of exchanges in the Parliament between Senators
Fawcett/Johnston and Defence over the total exclusion
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAR 2015 25
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAR 2015 25
5/03/2015 4:29 pm
Links Archive APDR 02 2015 APDR April 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page