Chopper maintenance contract awarded

THE future of one of the Australian Defence Force's most crucial assets, the Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopter fleets, was secured with the awarding of $124 million, four-year contract to maintain the choppers on Tuesday.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith released the ADF's four-year defence capability plan on Tuesday, confirming several commitments made in the 2012-13 budget.

The plan outlined 111 defence projects, worth up to $153 billion over many years if approved, and where the projects are in the approvals process.

Among other new contracts announced was a $25 million contract for BAE Systems UK to upgrade Australia's Hawk lead-in fighter jet trainers, two new artillery and mortar radars for use in Afghanistan and a $38 million satellite communications contract.

Mr Smith said the completion of the various new contracts would improve defence protection in Afghanistan and upgrade communications systems for Australia-United States joint operations in the Asia-Pacific.

The single largest contract, a US$269 million job to complete a bomb laser guidance system, expands the range aircrew have to target enemy defences.

Testing on the laser guidance system has been under way to ensure the system will have a lower chance of causing collateral damage and unnecessary deaths.

CONTRACTS:

  • $124.8m: Four-year contract with Sikorsky Helitech for maintenance of Australia's Black Hawk and Seahawk fleets.
  • $270m: Australia's enhanced Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) has completed its first round of testing. The JDAM converts an unguided bomb into a guided weapon that can be launched from the Classic Hornet and Super Hornet aircraft and in the future by the Joint Strike Fighter.
  • Two new Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) Giraffe radars have been accepted by Defence for operations in Afghanistan - to detect and warn against indirect fire attacks on the Tarin Kot base.
  • $38m: Contract with ViaSat Incorporated to deliver the ADF Ultra High Frequency Network Control System.
  • $25m: BAE Systems in the UK to start upgrade activities on the RAAF fast jet training capability, otherwise known as the Hawk - the training aircraft for the ADF's fast jet pilots before they move on to the Classic Hornet or Super Hornet and the future Joint Strike Fighter.