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Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia sign AIR6500 prime contract

The Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia have signed the contract to deliver the first phase of Project AIR6500, the Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS). The company was named winner of the contest to head this project in August 2023 – the contract then was said to be worth some $765 million.

The Defence Strategic Review outlined an enhanced, all-domain integrated air and missile defence capability as critical to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The eight-year AIR6500 Ph.1 strategic partnership will provide Defence with an advanced integrated air and missile defence capability, using next-generation technologies to combat high-speed threats, says the company.

This phase will deliver the core JABMS command-and-control architecture for integrated air and missile defence, providing greater situational awareness of advanced air and missile threats, and increased interoperability with international partners. And Lockheed Martin Australia is investing in the establishment of a National Integrated Air and Missile Defence Ecosystem to support Defence.

Project AIR6500 Ph.1 will also deliver four advanced air-defence radars, manufactured by Canberra-based CEA Technologies, with the first delivery scheduled this year.

The program will deliver improved network architecture, next-generation deployable air-battle management systems and initial integration with priority platforms, such as major combatant ships and F-35A Lightning II aircraft.​

Ahead of the AIR6500 Phase 1 contract signing, Lockheed Martin Australia developed an Operator Evaluation System for the JABMS. This was delivered ahead of schedule and on budget, the company says. Using this system, Defence’s air battle managers can access a secure test environment to provide feedback on AIR6500 Ph.1’s design and functionality. This feedback will inform future development activities.

As well as supporting 230 direct and 300 indirect jobs in Australia, the JABMS contract is expected to provide opportunities for the Australian supply chain members in what Lockheed Martin estimates is a $83 billion export market.

Lockheed Martin Australia’s local supply chain includes Boeing Defence Australia, C4i, Leidos Australia, Lucid Consulting Australia, Raytheon Australia, Shoal Group, and Silentium Defence.

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