Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR October 2015 Contents improvements jointly for software updates for a common
combat system. The USN and the RAN intend to
maximise convergence on software improvements with
a goal of ensuring a USN/RAN common baseline,
thereby providing cost savings and interoperability
benefits to both Participants”.
SEA 1439 PHASE 4
On 10 September 2001 the Government approved
Project SEA 1439 Phase 4, a $443 million project to
procure an off-the-shelf US C2 System and Virginia
Class Weapon Integration Panel, shore based system
at both NUWC and the STSC and minor improvements
to the sonar system augmentation that was installed on
Collins under fast track.
None-the-less, Australian Industry were somewhat
excited about possible involvement in the program
moving forward. Not only did they have a signed
government to government commitment to develop
improvements jointly, the USN conducted industry
workshops in September 2003 and further stated,
“We value our partnership with the Commonwealth of
Australia and look forward to the full participation of
Australian Industry and the Royal Australian Navy in the
Combat System Modernization Process”
Fourteen years on, the AN/BYG-1 program, when tested
against Australian Industry Involvement statements
made at inception, has been a total policy failure.
In May 2011 Warren King, then head of the DMO,
advised the Senate that no Australian company had
made it past the first step of a four step process into the
US program and that only DSTO had made it to step
three. Again in 2012 Defence confirmed the situation
remained the same. They agreed they were not doing
well on the Australian Industry Involvement front and
that priority with respect to Australian industry was
lacking and needed to be fixed.
Hope was regenerated after Defence advised Senator
Johnston in May 2012 “The target is for Australian
companies to be able to compete for inclusion in the
joint development process on the same basis as US
based companies”. Five months later they added, “A
plan to increase Australian industry competitiveness in
the AN/BYG-1 development program is expected to be
completed in early 2013”.
The plan has not been published but Defence
did fund two Australian entities, Cirrus Real Time
Processing Systems and Thales, $230,000 and
$155,000 respectively, to participate in Advanced
Processor Build (APB) 15.
What has recently emerged is that both companies
were successful in their presentation at the concept
evaluation step of the APB program, but that neither
was engaged for any further US work. The concept will
be progressed by US companies (recall that ‘thought’
you were asked to hold above).
As has been mentioned, to inject capability into the AN/
BYG-1 program, it must go through a four step process;
1) Concept Evaluation, 2) Laboratory Evaluation, 3) At
Sea Demonstration and 4) Embedded Implementation.
Step two involves peer review by, amongst other things,
industry players. Despite Australia being purported
to be a joint member of the program, no Australian
company has been invited to participate in this peer
review. Indeed, in response to a 2011 Senate question,
Defence conceded that even DSTO had been excluded
from this process.
CALL IT FOR WHAT IT ISN’T
Australia must surely be at the point where a spade
must be called a spade.
First; the project is not joint (no more joint than
any other project where Australia orders and pays an
overseas entity for a capability). Second, and relying
on 14 years’ experience, Defence are incapable of
securing Australian industry involvement in the program.
Despite loud calls from Defence to have a sovereign
submarine capability, Australia’s combat system industry
has been locked out of its own submarine platform.
Noting the vibrant indigenous capability Australia had
in the eighties and nineties, it is fair to say that the
AN/BYG-1 is a shameful case of self-reliance being
abandoned in favour of the US Alliance.
AT LEAST DOUBLE THE PRICE
To make matter worse, the cost of Australia’s
participation in the project is obscene.
The original Rockwell combat system equivalent of
the AN/BYG-1 C2 system and weapon control system
was referred to as the Tactical Data Handling System
(TDHS). The TDHS software and hardware was used
to integrate, display and control the various combat
system functions, including the weapons. The TDHS
cost $152 million ($61 million in 1986 dollars) to
develop from a blank sheet of paper. Whilst one might
argue that the system did not work, this writer worked
in and around the producer of the very successful
Sonar Technician (Submarine) 2nd Class Kenneth Pichon, from New Orleans, and Sonar Technician (Submarine) Seaman
Edwin Silva, from San Diego, troubleshoot a trailing sonar sensor aboard the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS
Charlotte (SSN 766). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor/Released)
" About the same time PIPRS was being trialled by the US, the
original US Combat System on the Collins class combat system was
hitting the news "
COLLINS COMBAT SYSTEM
38 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter OCT 2015
17/09/2015 5:19 pm
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