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Australia expanding next-gen combat management system to more ship classes

HMAS Anzac and minehunter HMAS Gascoyne
Royal Australian Navy file photo frigate HMAS Anzac and Huon-class minehunter HMAS Gascoyne departing Sydney Harbour.

The Australian government announced on March 22 it is expanding work on the Royal Australian Navy’s “next generation” combat management system to include more ship classes.

The original agreement with Saab Australia from February 2020 set out the delivery of the new CMS for the navy’s Anzac-class frigates, new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels and Supply-class replenishment ships.

Saab Australia was also to leverage their CMS experience in the development of the Australian interface to the Aegis system, for the Hunter-class frigates and the Hobart-class destroyers.

According to the defense ministry announcement from March 22, Saab will now also be working on developing and delivering the CMS for Huon-class mine counter measures and Leeuwin-class military survey vessels.

Australian defense industry minister Melissa Price said the new agreement would drive the next phase of growth and investment by Saab Australia, the nation’s sovereign Combat Management System provider.

“This project will create Australian jobs for engineers and project managers, developing further capability within the industrial supply chain and supporting a major, multi-million dollar expansion of Saab’s South Australian and West Australian facilities,” minister Price said.

“Saab’s investment and recruitment since signing their Enterprise Partnering Agreement with defense in February 2020 is clear evidence that the Australian Naval Shipbuilding Plan is creating jobs and delivering sovereign capability.”

“In the first 12 months of the EPA, Saab has been awarded almost $20 million and welcomed 108 new staff across Australia.”

Saab’s 9LV CMS is already on board Anzac-class frigates and Canberra-class landing helicopter docks. The Supply-class and Arafura-class OPV will operate the system as they start entering service.

The combat system integrates a range of ship sensors and weapons to detect, classify, track and defeat threats. Typical combat system sensors include surveillance radars, passive or active sonars, laser warning receivers, and electro-optic and infra-red systems. Missile and torpedo decoy systems, electronic jammers, chaff and flare dispensers are the most common soft-kill weapons; while missiles, cannons and guns (large 5-inch to 7.6mm machine guns) the most common hard-kill. Any fire-control radars and laser ranging systems may also be included as part of the weapon system.

The CMS being developed will incorporate “Game Theory,” using mathematics to model human decision making in competitive situations. The system depicts the realistic situation in which both sides are free to choose their best “moves” and to adjust their strategy over time. The ship’s combat team can analyze tactical probabilities and optimize the ships course, speed, emission state and sensor settings for both individual assets and an entire task group.

Integration of unmanned systems is also a high priority for CMS development, according to Saab, as integration with the CMS to optimize the display and utilization of the unmanned systems data will be increasingly important to the command team.