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Capability (IOC) dates for the modified Black Hawk and Chinook aircraft
were to be dependent on availability of aircraft for modification.
Phase 2B was defined to use the work carried out on the earlier AIR 5401
Phase 3A activity by upgrading the system and installing it in all C-130H
aircraft. A $25m contract was awarded to Tenix Defence Aerospace Division
in December 2004 “for the integration and installation of an Electronic
Warfare Self Protection capability to the fleet of C-130H Hercules aircraft”.
An EW suite for the C-130J was not on the list at the time.
It was clear that BAE Systems was scheduled to get the lion’s share of
Echidna. Tenix was reportedly miffed with the result, particularly as during
the IDA activity both companies worked together as a team.
EVOLUTION OF THE ALR-2002
In 1991 DSTO studied the shortcomings of the Israeli ESM installed in the
P3-C and this led to the consideration of a new RWR that reportedly could
have wide application in RAAF airborne assets, including the F-111 . A
technology demonstrator was produced.
In 1996 AWA Defence Industries, enhanced by the acquisition of Fairey
Australasia Ltd, and closely followed by the purchase of Thorn EMI
Electronics Australia teamed with DSTO to develop a new RWR for the
F-111, designated the ALR-2002 . Completion of the ALR-2002 Full Scale
Engineering Development was scheduled for end 1997, followed by flight
testing in 1998. The ALR-2002 would replace the existing ALR-62( V)5-6,
but would retain that system’s antenna installation subject to its functional
suitability. A new cockpit display for the ALR-2002 would also be provided.
The highly optimistic timescale should be noted. Variants of the F-111
ALR-2002 would be developed and supplied for other aircraft in the
Of passing note is that AWA Defence Industries (AWADI) possessed
the unique, for Australia at that time, design capability and a foundry to
produce low volume LSI and VLSI devices that may have been relevant to
this ambitious development.
Two years later, in April 1998, AWADI sold its defence business, excluding
the foundry and Barra Buoy, to the then British Aerospace Australia,
thus creating the largest defence electronics company in the country.
The ALR-2002 went with that sale and with it a longer timescale for the
completion of the RWR’s FSED. ( The foundry activities continued for some
time including the manufacture of Bolometers, developed by DSTO. Little
overseas interest was elicited in the ).
On reflection, the development of the ALR 2002 may have suffered,
terminally, when its parentage changed and it became the victim of
a “breach birth” for unstated reasons. But rumour was rife that the
development of the RWR was beyond BAE Systems’ expertise, that the
technology employed was out of date, relative to US systems, that funds
were not available to update the design and that the system’s performance
would not meet the specifications for each platform. This very important
latter issue emerged and in efforts to control it variants for each platform
were introduced. But this approach did not tackle or reduce the high cost
of design, the physical and electrical integration and qualification of the
EWSP installation in the various aircraft.
According to records, the ALR-2002 was successfully installed and put
through ground functional testing in one F-111, but it is understood that
flight testing to achieve IOC was not carried out.
In 2009 BAE Systems announced that the Ph.2A EWSP suite for the
Blackhawk had successfully completed a series of critical flight trials at
Woomera. The system configuration was the ALR-2002 RWR, the SBS
EW Controller and the BAE Systems’ SIIDAS software suite, the AAR-60
MAW and the Vicon 78 CMDS, installed in a flight test pod developed by
Tenix. According to BAE Systems’ reports the trials tested every aspect of
the specified performance of the Blackhawk EWSP system, including CM
testing and paved the way for Blackhawk aircraft flight trials, proposed for
end 2009. It is not known whether the Blackhawk aircraft flight trials were
carried out, but it is considered to be unlikely as at a critical momrnt on
Sep 18, 2009, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science
effectively pulled the “plug” on Echidna.
THE AXE FALLS, ECHIDNA IS DISMEMBERED
On Sep 18, 2009 Greg Combet announced that the Government had agreed
to a Defence recommendation to reduce the scope for approved project
AIR 5416 Phase 2 – EWSP for rotary wing assets:
“Modifications to 12 Black Hawk helicopters to provide a basic level of
electronic warfare self protection, essentially similar to the EWSP fitted
under Echidna to the Chinooks will be carried out. Five Black Hawk aircraft
have been modified and the remaining seven aircraft will be completed
before mid 2010.”
Development of the ALR-2002 radar warning receiver would be
terminated as continuing the Phase would have an adverse effect on
The return on investment involved in completing, installing and
sustaining the advanced electronic warfare suite would not be justified
given the remaining life of the Black Hawk fleet. Savings of $50m would
accrue to Defence.
Installation of an EWSP and ballistic protection to the Chinook fleet for
operations in Afghanistan has been completed to counter heat seeking
missiles and direct fire weapons.
Project Echidna also included the modification of all 12 C130H aircraft
by Tenix Defence to provide a missile warning, radar warning and counter
measures dispenser capability.
The Minister stressed “that the performance of the prime contractor
BAE Systems on the Echidna project had met all expectations and that
development of the skills, capabilities and technology by BAE Systems
during the conduct of the project will pay dividends for Defence and the
company into the future. BAE Systems should be congratulated on its
“The C-130H modification program, the equipment fitted to Chinooks
for operations, and an equivalent capability currently being fitted to some
Black Hawks, has markedly increased the knowledge and capability of the
ADF and Australian industry in the complex and sensitive area of aircraft
electronic warfare self protection.”
PROGRAMS ORIGINALLY DESTINED TO
RECEIVE THE ALR-2002 UNDER ECHIDNA
AIR5391. F-111 EW UPGRADE
This project was established with the specific aim of completely replacing
the existing EW suite using newer technology. The EW suite, like other
avionics systems was installed under a successful Block Upgrade program.
It is understood that six ECM pods were purchased but all aircraft were
the ALR-2002 at a later date.
The target date for the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of this “final”
system was the end of 2010.
AIR 5376. F/A-18 A/B HUG
ALR-2002 in Phase 2.3 of this project. But it was evident that the HUG
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