Lockheed Martin, a prominent American defense corporation, has secured a substantial contract worth 765 million Australian dollars (approximately $487 million US) to initiate the inaugural phase of Canberra’s Air6500 missile defense project. This landmark contract award marks Lockheed Martin’s victory over fellow American defense heavyweight Northrop Grumman in providing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with a cutting-edge Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS) that will underpin the nation’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense capabilities.

The centerpiece of Lockheed’s groundbreaking JABMS is its potential to deliver significantly enhanced situational awareness and defense mechanisms, effectively countering the evolving threats posed by advanced air and missile systems. Beyond its defensive capabilities, this system is expected to bolster the ADF’s interoperability with the United States and other allied forces, fostering seamless collaboration in the face of shared security challenges.

Stephanie C. Hill, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President, commented on the pivotal role this contract will play in bolstering Australia’s defense capabilities, stating:

“This critical capability will allow the ADF to leverage information from across all domains at greater speeds, with better accuracy, and at a greater scale than it is capable of today.”

Understanding Australia’s Joint Air Battle Management System Program

Australia is taking significant steps to bolster its air and missile defense capabilities in response to evolving strategic challenges, particularly amid rising tensions with China. The Albanese Government has invested substantially in the JABMS program, which aims to enhance situational awareness, enabling better identification and tracking of advanced air and missile threats while promoting increased interoperability with international partners, including the United States.

(Image source: US Air Force)

Selecting Lockheed Martin as its Strategic Partner for the JABMS project also means Australia is expected to create approximately 230 high-tech jobs across various sectors, benefiting regions such as South Australia, the NSW Hunter region, Brisbane, and Canberra. In parallel, the government is accelerating the development of the ADF’s Medium-Range Ground-Based Air Defence capability, contributing to a layered and integrated air missile defense system. These investments align with the government’s goal of modernizing the ADF and transitioning it into an integrated force optimized for national defense.

Lockheed Martin’s Winning Proposal: Seven Years in the Making

Lockheed’s successful bid for the Air6500 project did not happen overnight. The company has worked diligently on a specialized version of the Australian JABMS for over seven years. In a remarkable demonstration of commitment, it also invested approximately 100 million Australian dollars (roughly $65 million US) of its own capital into this project. Additionally, the workforce dedicated to the Air6500 endeavor has been doubled in size, underscoring the significance of this initiative.

One of the standout features of Lockheed’s winning proposal is the inclusion of a groundbreaking passive radar system named MAVERICK, developed in partnership with Australian firm Silentium Defence. MAVERICK is hailed as “a world first” in radar technology, capable of tracking reflections of objects from radio waves, thereby enabling precise threat detection across a vast spectrum, from Low Earth Orbit to the sea’s surface.