Asia Pacific Defence ReporterToll Helicopters orders 2 AW139s supporting the ADF: Leonardo announced the expansion of its fleet of AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters in Australia with an order for two aircraft by the leading helicopter operator Toll Helicopters (Toll). The helicopters will supplement a fleet of three AW139s currently supporting a range of activities including pilot and aircrew officer training, utility support to ADF exercises and emergency response and disaster relief missions. They will be delivered from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly line facility in Italy in the second half of 2023 and bring Toll’s fleet of AW139’s to a total of 12. The newly purchased AW139s will support Toll Helicopters contract delivery across two programs, a Crash Response Helicopter Service for the 1st Aviation Regiment in Darwin and the Army Commercial Helicopter program currently based out of the 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville. The aircraft features searchlight, hoist, cargo hook, provisions for EO/IR equipment, to support a range of training and emergency response and disaster relief missions. Toll Helicopters, headquartered in Brisbane, is an experienced provider of specialised mission-critical helicopter services and training for Government, Defence and the civil sector, specialized in helicopter emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, airborne law enforcement, training and logistics support. Toll is a Leonardo Authorised Training Centre with the only OEM-approved AW139 Full Flight Simulator in the Oceania region.

ADF signs MOU to support Papua New New Guinea aviation: The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) have taken another step forward in their strong aviation partnership. At the Australian International Airshow, Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC, and Papua New Guinea’s Chief of Defence Force, Major‑General Mark Goina, signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Implementing Arrangement to facilitate the delivery of two new PAC-750XL aircraft to the PNGDF in 2023. The two aircraft will increase the PNGDF’s sovereign aviation capabilities, which provide important services to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea. The PAC-750XL aircraft will provide the PNGDF with additional transport and operational capacity to respond to domestic and regional incidents, and will have the ability to be quickly reconfigured for different activities. Through their longstanding defence cooperation, Australia and Papua New Guinea continue to address Papua New Guinea’s security priorities. The PAC-750XL aircraft will provide new opportunities for ADF and PNGDF personnel to work alongside one another and make our defence forces even closer. Australia and Papua New Guinea are partnering on aviation safety, maintenance and sustainment throughout the operational life of the aircraft through their joint Flights of Excellence program. This will include continuing joint training and capacity building activities between ADF and PNGDF personnel. The first aircraft will be delivered by April and the second by September 2023.

Lockheed Martin Australia partners with Australian Aerospace Engineering: Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand today announced that Albury-based Small to Medium Enterprise (SME), Australian Aerospace Engineering (AAE) will bolster the expansion of the Lockheed Martin Australia rotary-wing sovereign sustainment network. This collaboration will form part of Lockheed Martin Australia’s sustainment support services for the Royal Australian Navy’s growing MH-60R Seahawk fleet, and the Australian Army’s announced UH-60M Black Hawk fleet. With extensive experience across a range of aerospace capabilities, AAE will provide Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services and spare parts provisioning support to Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, and subsidiary company, Sikorsky Australia. The rotary-wing collaboration builds on a strong partnership between Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand and AAE. AAE is a longstanding SME supplier of aerospace spare parts to Lockheed Martin Australia, providing additional materiel support to Sikorsky Australia’s sustainment operations at Nowra, New South Wales. Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand’s Kendell Kuczma, International Business Development Director for Rotary and Missions Systems welcomed the opportunity to expand the relationship with AAE and collaborate on the MH-60R Seahawk and UH-60M Black Hawk fleets. A recent example of AAE’s contribution to Australia’s rotary-wing global supply chain included AAE entering a distributor agreement to work with Eaton, the world-leading Original Equipment Manufacturer of fluid conveyance products, to establish an exclusive Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Technical Standard Order (TSO) approved manufacturing capability for Aeroquip fluid conveyance hoses. These hoses are the fitted items across Sikorsky’s Black Hawk and Seahawk platforms.

ADF signs new recruitment partnerNominations open for 2023 veteran awards: The search is on for Australia’s leading veteran employers and employees, with nominations for the 2023 Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards now open. There’s no doubt that following their service in the Australian Defence Force, veterans can go on to make a massive impact on the success of businesses in civilian life. These Awards showcase the talent on offer in the veteran community, as employees and entrepreneurs, and also recognise the organisations that actively recruit, employ and support veterans and families. Meeting with veteran focused companies at the Avalon 2023 Australian International Airshow today, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh said the Awards shine a light on the great skills gained in service that veterans can bring to the civilian workforce.  “There are so many benefits to employing a veteran in the diverse civilian workforce, they bring with them skills like leadership, teamwork, agility, discipline and an ability to work under pressure – all critical skills in the modern economy, all in demand by employers,” Minister Keogh said. “Veterans make an amazing contribution to all sectors of the civilian workforce, but it is clear they play a particularly important role in defence industry. Here at Avalon there are some awesome businesses that employ or are run by veterans. Veterans in the defence industry continue contributing to the sovereign capability of our nation, as they equip the next generation of defence personnel with what they need.” Veteran-owned company, AeroPM, won the Outstanding Veterans’ Employer of the Year Award in 2020 and said employing veterans was a good business move for the company. The Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards feature eight award categories, including the recent additions of Partner Employee of the Year and Partner Entrepreneur of the year – acknowledging the contributions of Veteran and ADF partners to the civilian workforce. Nominations for the 2023 Awards close 14 April 2023, with the winners expected to be announced later this year.

Exercise Pitch BlackNorthrop Grumman signs charter to improve MRO for RAAF KC-30A: Northrop Grumman Australia has signed a charter with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Airbus to increase the availability of the RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet by improving maintenance support, ultimately furthering Australia’s sovereign defence industrial base. “Northrop Grumman is committed to help grow Australia’s defence capability,” said Christine Zeitz, general manager, Northrop Grumman Asia Pacific. “The signing of the KC-30A Sovereign Industrial Capability Charter underscores the collective responsibility that we share to keep them mission ready.” The charter calls for all parties to work together to reduce turn-around-times and increase KC-30A aircraft availability. To do this, Northrop Grumman, Airbus and the RAAF have committed to building supply chain resilience and Australian industry capability by establishing and supporting workshops that increase maintenance and repair infrastructure in the country. The charter also establishes full transparency for the exchange of information amongst the parties to proactively identify and establish opportunities for greater sovereign maintenance support for the fleet. Priorities include the creation of an Airbus Boom Maintenance Repair and Optimisation Centre in Australia as well as local implementation of future KC-30A upgrades.

ADROITA awarded NSW government jobs support: Defence sector engineering, professional services, and business advisory consultancy ADROITA will receive New South Wales Government Jobs Plus support to assist them to expand their service offering in the state. The female-led and veteran-owned company is based in Sydney, with employees in Canberra, Melbourne, Wollongong, and Adelaide. ADROITA will use the Jobs Plus support to assist them to develop a New South Wales-based Defence-digital engineering capability with a globally competitive service offering that will include model-based systems engineering, digital sovereign test and evaluation, modelling and simulation, digital twin development, and other advanced data analytics such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and decision support. The company anticipates that the grant will create more than 30 new skilled jobs over the next two years and improve the productivity of the NSW economy by leading the transition to digital engineering—an emerging body of disciplines that underscores several of the global megatrends identified in the NSW Government’s NSW 2040 Economic Blueprint—while also making an economic contribution through innovation, research and development, and by creating a career pathway for engineers and technologists. “Digital Engineering is to the engineer what Industry 4.0 is to the manufacturer. Digital engineering requires the integration of modern digital enterprise systems with data driven techniques such as decision support and data engineering, modelling and simulation and digital systems engineering, to provide a modern, integrated approach to manage the lifecycles of complex defence systems from concept through to disposal,” said CEO of ADROITA, Ms. Sarah Pavillard.

Additional Australian suppliers join Boeing’s MQ-28 industry team: Boeing’s MQ-28A Ghost Bat Australian supplier base has increased by 60 percent – to 55 suppliers – just four years after initial concept unveiling. Making its public debut at Avalon 2023, the MQ-28 is the first Australian-designed, developed and manufactured military combat aircraft in half-a-century. “The support of agile local suppliers has been vital to the rapid manufacture of this revolutionary uncrewed aircraft and its payloads, which will support a range of missions,” said Glen Ferguson, director MQ-28 Global Program, Boeing Australia. “The Boeing MQ-28 program proves Australian industry can create a seamless link between airpower capability needs, local innovation and job opportunities.” Aircraft development is progressing, with a robust flight test schedule underway and validation of MQ-28’s operational capabilities in an all-digital environment to refine mission sets is ongoing. Lovitt Technologies Australia and Marand Precision Engineering are two suppliers applying innovative solutions to develop the fighter-like aircraft with Boeing. Program capability partner, BAE Systems Australia has also signed an extension of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a shared commitment to the development of a sustainable, sovereign MQ-28 program.

C4i awarded air defence communication contract in Asia Pacific: Melbourne-based critical communications SME, C4i, has been awarded a nationwide voice communication control system (VCCS) contract. Following a successful initial system delivery on behalf of C4i, this contract will expand on what is already one of the largest systems in Asia Pacific. C4i’s secure VCCS, the VOICE C2 system, offers unparalleled operational flexibility, allowing operators to control any radio – from anywhere – at any time; with the intuitive graphical user interface providing operational access to both local and remote systems, for quicker response times. The system will comprise numerous operating centres, remote radio sites, and remote air base sites, with controller working positions to interface to new and legacy radio systems, telephone systems and voice recording systems. With several hundred controller working positions, working end-to-end, the C4i VCCS will represent one of the largest Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems in Asia Pacific and the world. C4i, now a member of the Frequentis Group, has over two decades of experience and has built a strong, successful track record for working in close conjunction with in-country partners, with this project being no exception. C4i will be collaborating with a local partner for delivery, training, and support of the VCCS – the program involves C4i, the local partner, and the customer working together to ensure a seamless transition between the existing legacy systems and the new VCCS. This strong working relationship will continue through to the certification of full operational capability and beyond into the ongoing support of the system throughout its lifecycle.

BAE Systems and MBDA collaborate to support nation’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance capability: BAE Systems Australia and European missile group MBDA today announced a collaboration agreement that will support Australia as it establishes its sovereign Guided Weapon and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) capability.  The collaboration will leverage MBDA’s status as a world leading missile provider and BAE Systems’ local experience and expertise. The industrial collaboration is a direct response to the Federal Government’s objective to deliver an expanded Guided Weapon capability to the Australian warfighter by introducing a diversified source of supply to the Australian Defence Force that will markedly enhance the local GWEO ecosystem.  Delivery of weapon system capabilities through the collaboration will develop enduring Australian Industry Capability through work package transfer, product assembly and test. The initial areas of collaboration will focus on the weaponisation of BAE Systems’ Strix Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) to meet the Army, Navy and Air Force capability needs, alongside the development of a skills and capability initiative to upskill and build capacity within the Australian GWEO ecosystem. The collaboration can also support agreements from UK/Australia bi-lateral discussions, AUKUS dialogue and export opportunities to regional partner nations. The collaboration will draw on BAE Systems’ established advanced manufacturing footprint and network of trusted industry partners, which delivers a range of GWEO capabilities, including the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) subsystems and Nulka sub-systems operating on NATO, US and Australian warships.

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