Top 30 Project Descriptions

Aerospace Systems Division

AIR 8000 Phase 3—C-17 Globemaster III Heavy Lift Aircraft

Photo of GlobemasterContractor: The Boeing Company under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) arrangement with the United States Government

Four Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft, and associated support and equipment have been acquired and successfully transitioned into Air Force service. This capability has significantly enhanced the ADF's ability to support national and international operations and major disaster rescue and relief efforts. On completing initial transition, training, test and evaluation activities, the first two C-17 aircraft obtained an Australian Military Type Certificate and Service Release from the Chief of Air Force in August 2007, allowing them to undertake operational roles. The third and fourth aircraft were handed over to the Commonwealth in December 2007 and January 2008, again ahead of the contracted schedule. To date, the project is within budget and on schedule to deliver self-protection improvements, training devices, specialist role equipment and mature support arrangements during 2008-10. Full Operational Capability will be achieved when mature C-17 facilities have been established. This is anticipated to occur by 2011.

The primary risk to the project is the delivery of effective logistics support to allow sustained C-17 operations of all four aircraft at required rates of effort. This medium level risk is being mitigated by obtaining critical spares and support equipment incrementally and participating in the United States Air Force Globemaster Sustainment Partnership. Increased spares and equipment holdings are being progressively delivered in 2008 and 2009.

AIR 5402—ADF Air to Air Refuelling Capability

Contractor: EADS CASA - acquisition Qantas Airways Ltd - through-life support

This project will acquire five Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft - to be known as the KC-30B in Air Force service. The acquisition also establishes the infrastructure necessary to deliver through-life support services, including engineering, maintenance, spares, technical data, software and training support for the new fleet.

The through-life support contract was signed with Qantas in February 2007, with commencement aligned with acceptance of the first modified A330 aircraft.

Following first flight on 15 June 2007, the first aircraft was re-inducted into the conversion centre in Madrid, Spain for installation and test of the flight test instrumentation. This task took longer than expected with flight test not commencing until early November 2007 (an overall schedule slip of five months). The first phase of flight testing was successfully completed in mid-February 2008 and confirmed the handling qualities and performance of the modified aircraft. The aircraft was then re-inducted into the conversion centre to install the suite of military avionics.

The second aircraft was accepted by EADS CASA from Airbus in May 2008.

A significant shortfall in expenditure occurred in 2007-08 due to contractor delays. Schedule delay associated with the late commencement of the first phase of flight testing was not recovered, which impacted completion of Phase 2 conversion milestones. Delays to completion of test planning impacted achievement of the Test Readiness Review milestone. Both conversion and test readiness milestones were completed to allow commencement of the second phase of ground testing in August 2008 and flight testing during fourth quarter 2008.

EADS CASA has committed additional resources and management attention to minimise further program delays. Nevertheless, there remains a medium level of technical and schedule risk associated with testing and certification of the new refuelling boom and military avionics systems. The current five month delay will not be recovered and the contracted February 2009 delivery date for the first aircraft will not be achieved. The first two aircraft are now expected to commence flying in Australia in the second half of 2009. Completion of Air Force receiver clearances and military airworthiness certification is now expected mid-2010.

There were two major technical risks to the project in 2007-08; qualification of the new refuelling boom, and the development of the military mission systems. The first risk was managed through the EADS-funded technology demonstration and qualification program for the new boom system, including flight testing on a demonstrator aircraft. The second risk is being managed by progressive bench and system-level testing, and a high degree of project input to the review and ongoing development of the military mission system. The overall risk level for this project is medium.

AIR 5376 Phase 2—F/A-18 Hornet upgrade


This project involves upgrading the F/A-18 fleet to allow the aircraft to perform assigned air defence tasks more effectively.

Phase 2.2 is the upgrade of cockpit displays, moving maps, helmet mounted cueing system, data links and simulators, and was achieved in 2007-08. Phase 2.3 is the electronic warfare self-protection suite upgrade, and is currently underway.

The situational awareness aspects include upgraded cockpit displays, a moving map, a helmet-mounted cueing system for the advanced short-range air-to-air missile, and improved datalinks. Fleet modification is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008.

The electronic warfare self-protection upgrades include a new radar warning receiver, a supplementary counter measures dispensing capability and a new active radio frequency jammer.

The major project milestones achieved in 2007-08 were the successful delivery of the Final Operating Capability for the Hornet Upgrade Phase 2.2 elements, the commencement of production of the first Phase 2.3 capability, and factory acceptance testing of three Tactical Readiness Trainers to supplement the already delivered Operational Flight Trainers.

The initial concept was to negotiate both the acquisition and in-service support of the Supplementary Counter Measures Dispensing System together. Due to value for money considerations, a new contracting strategy was adopted whereby the acquisition and in-service support elements were separated. The acquisition contract was signed on 31 July 2008. A strategy for in-service support is being developed.

A risk for the project is maintaining the fleet modification schedule with concurrent aircraft modifications and maintenance activities, while allowing for ageing aircraft issues. This low level risk was mitigated by DMO and Air Force management of the production schedule and the implementation of several stand-alone production lines within the modification facilities.

A further risk is that the integration, aircraft installation, and legacy systems degrade the electronic warfare self protection suite subsystem performance, and hence the suite performance does not meet the function performance specification. This medium-level risk is being managed by incremental integration and testing that will identify issues for early rectification, drawing on Boeing and US Navy expertise, and performing systems integration laboratory testing. Flight testing in the US on an instrumented EW range will provide knowledge of deficiencies and allow development of tactics and techniques.

Another medium-level risk is the Commonwealth performing the role of electronic warfare self protection suite systems integrator and integrating disparate subsystems from multiple countries. This risk is being managed by conducting prototyping activities before contracting fleet modification; establishing and operating a Resident Project Team in the United States, establishing the interface control working groups, and implementing an incremental approach through progressive software releases to allow the logistics and operational elements time to adapt to the new systems and capabilities.

Meeting the schedule for delivery and acceptance into service of the Hornet aircrew training system is a low risk and has been reduced through close management with the contractor and capability user. Training requirements limiting opportunities for the incorporation of upgrades to the Tactical Operational Flight Trainers is a low risk for the project. This risk will be managed by close liaison with Air Combat Group and the prime contractor in the development of schedules for upgrade activity.

AIR 5376 Phase 3.2—F/A-18 Hornet Upgrade—Structural Refurbishment

Contractor: L-3 Communications MAS Inc (Canada) - Non-recurring Engineering/Modification


The first prototype centre barrel replacement aircraft successfully completed test flights in February 2008 and has been returned to the fleet. The second prototype has undergone centre barrel replacement in Canada and was returned to Australia for reassembly in September 2008.

Due to the risks associated with conducting centre barrel replacement in Australia and the dissolution of the Hornet Industry Coalition, initial production was contracted to L-3 Communications MAS (Canada) with low rate initial production beginning in February 2008. Currently a total of ten centre barrel replacements (including the two prototypes) have been contracted to L-3 Communications MAS (Canada). The total number of centre barrel replacements will be determined based on analysis of the planned withdrawal date and fatigue accrual rate.

The tender for the mature production contract has been issued and a prime contractor is expected to be on contract by January 2009, with completion of work scheduled for 2013.

A low risk to the project is the potential failure to strike a mature contract for production. To mitigate this risk, a dedicated team is developing a contract with a firm delivery schedule. A contingency plan has been developed to extend the current interim contracts should the contract schedule be compromised.

Another low level risk associated with the project is schedule delays caused by poor aircraft condition requiring additional repairs. Additional work may also be required during Centre Barrel Replacement. Fatigue life extensions greatly reduce the impact of delay, thereby reducing this risk.

JP 129 Phase 2—Airborne Surveillance for Land Operations

Contractor: Contractor not yet selected

The project scope includes two Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) systems, each comprising four air vehicles fitted with sensor payloads, a ground segment to provide control and exploitation functions, and elements for maintenance and logistics support. The TUAV system will have electro-optic and infra-red cameras and a laser target designator. It will provide real-time video footage to ground operators via secure wideband line-of-sight datalinks.

Defence signed an acquisition contract with Boeing Australia in December 2006 for a TUAV system based on the Israel Aerospace Industries I-View 250. Boeing was awarded an in-service support contract in February 2007. However, in implementing the acquisition contract, Boeing experienced a range of technical and programmatic issues, making it increasingly difficult to deliver the full scope of the contract within a timeframe acceptable to Defence. The contracts were terminated on 4 September 2008.

Defence is presently considering alternative capabilities. Operational imperatives are likely to lead to off-the-shelf capabilities which can be delivered in minimum time.