Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Joint Media Release – Defence capability update

The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today provided an update on progress in four major Defence capability projects, previously approved by Government:

·        Delivery of the sixth Wedgetail aircraft;

·        Contract to allow long term operation of the C-27J aircraft;

·        Contract for the repair and maintenance of ANZAC Class frigates; and

·        Contract for the acquisition of artillery control systems.

SIXTH WEDGETAIL AIRCRAFT ARRIVES                                             

The sixth and final Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft has been delivered and is now at its home base RAAF Williamtown.

The delivery of the sixth aircraft is a significant milestone for this important project, which delivers a world-class air battle management capability.

Wedgetail will provide Defence with an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability comprising of six aircraft and associated supplies and support.

Each of the aircraft is fitted with a highly advanced multipurpose radar system, which provides our Defence forces with greater situational awareness.

The Wedgetail aircraft will be a critical part for Australia’s Air Defence System and will enhance surveillance, air defence, fleet support and force coordination operations.

The delivery of the sixth aircraft reflects the combined efforts of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and contracted suppliers including Boeing.

The Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft will be operated by No. 2 Squadron from RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle.

Imagery is available at:


A contract has been signed with Alenia Aermacchi that will allow for the long tern operation, maintenance, modification and upgrade of the C-27J aircraft and support systems.

On 12 May, the Government announced the decision to purchase 10 Alenia C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft at a cost of $1.4 billion. The announcement also foreshadowed that Defence would seek a separate agreement with the C-27J manufacturer, Alenia, in order to ensure that the RAAF could operate, maintain and modify the aircraft throughout its planned life.

The contract, which is worth around $63 million, will also provide Defence with the ability to compete and sublicense third parties, including Australian industry, to provide the maintenance services, training services and the ability to modify the C-27J capability.

The C-27J will replace the Caribou aircraft which was retired from service in 2009 after a career spanning more than four decades. The C-27J complements the capabilities of the C-130 and C-17 aircraft and uses more common infrastructure and aircraft systems such as engines, avionics and the cargo handling systems.

The acquisition of the C-27J will significantly improve the ADF’s ability to move troops, equipment and supplies. The C-27J has the capacity to carry a significant load and still access small, sort, narrow runways that are too short for the C-130J or runways which are unable to sustain the repeated use of larger aircraft.

These aircraft will provide battlefield airlift but are also capable of conducting airlift in our region. They will be able to operate from rudimentary airstrips in Australia and overseas and will be able to support humanitarian missions in remote locations.

The flexibility of the C-27J allows it to undertake a wide range of missions from delivering ammunition to front line troops to undertaking aero-medical evacuation of casualties.


A contract has been signed with Naval Ship Management (Australia), a new joint venture between Babcock and United Group Limited Infrastructure, for the repair and maintenance of the Navy’s eight ANZAC Class frigates.

This contract is the first of the grouped-asset, long term, performance-based contracts for the repair and maintenance of the Navy’s major surface ships. It reflects extensive engagement with Defence industry to develop a better model for the grouping or ‘batching’ of ship repair and maintenance jobs.

The contract has an anticipated value of $300 million dollars over five years, with the potential for rolling year-on-year contract extensions.

The revised model is more efficient, reducing the administrative burden of pre-event tender contracting, and providing greater predictability, certainty and stability for industry.

It will also allow Navy to plan and forecast maintenance and repair.


A contract has been signed with Rockwell Collins Australia for the acquisition of 96 digital terminal control systems (DTCS) under Project Land 17 Phase 1B.

The digital terminal control system allows Special Forces and artillery forward observers to identify targets with greater accuracy through the use of precision targeting software.

The system allows soldiers to rapidly engage enemy targets more effectively and with greater accuracy.

Australian troops will use these systems to call on fire support from land, sea or airborne weapon system, including the Army’s new M777 towed artillery.

The contract with Rockwell Collins Australia has a total value of around $63 million including in-service support arrangements.

This contract provides the Army with control terminals, tactical full motion video systems, laser target designators and training.

This contract follows the Government’s approval in 2010 for the acquisition of 56 digital terminal control systems for use in Afghanistan. The DTCS are used to support Australian and ISAF operations.

Rockwell Collins Australia has been operating in Australia for over 40 years and produces cutting edge avionics, navigation and communications technology.

Media contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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