MELBOURNE, Australia – The Australian government has selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia to progress to the next round of its fifth-generation Joint Air Battle Management System (JBAMs) competition, to be delivered under the $2.7 billion AUD ($1.99 billion USD) Air 6500 Phase 1 project.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price made the joint announcement on Aug. 5, marking the official beginning of the second phase of the Competitive Evaluation Process (CEPS2) to select a strategic partner to oversee design, development and delivery of the JBAMS System.

“Defence found the down-selected companies demonstrated the best understanding of its capability requirements, as well as a strong commitment to developing Australian industry capability,” Price said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing the advanced technical solutions and prototypes that will be developed as these companies refine their final offering for the Joint Air Battle Management System.”

The two successful companies, together with Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia, were selected under an initial stage of the CEPS program in 2016. According to the ministers, Boeing and Raytheon will continue to be involved in the development of the JBAMs and support the Australian Defence Force’s future Integrated Missile and Air Defence (IAMD) capability.

The JBAMS system will form the core architecture for the IAMD capability and will provide enhanced situational awareness and defense against increasingly sophisticated threats.

A further program, Air 6502 Phase 1 (Medium Range Ground-Based Air Defence Capability), will provide command-and-control systems, radars and missile launchers.

Both projects will be closely integrated with the Australian Army’s Land 19 Phase 7B (Short Range Ground Based Air Defence) program, for which Raytheon Australia was selected as prime contractor in March 2019.

“Today’s announcement marks the next step of Air 6500/1 to work in partnership with the Australian Defence Force and industry partners to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s vision to transform into a next-generation force, through delivering a sovereign, highly-advanced JABMs system to protect Australia’s security,” said Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Joe North.

“We look forward to collaborating with Australian industry and the RAAF to progress the solution as part of CEPS2.”

Northrop Grumman Asia Pacific managing director Christine Zeitz also highlighted the importance of growing an Australian Industrial Capability (AIC) in the development of a sovereign IAMD system.

“We will employ a highly collaborative ‘JABMS Enterprise’ approach that will bring together capabilities developed by Australia’s defence industry, including active and passive sensors, intelligent agents, data fusion and processing, through a solution architecture that is flexible, open, modular, secure and adaptable by design,” Zeitz said.

The Australian government will announce the successful strategic partner for the JABMS system in late 2023.

Nigel Pittaway is the Australia correspondent for Defense News.

More In Asia Pacific