Collins Aerospace targets data, networks in Australia; workforce grows by 50 percent



Collins Aerospace’s FasTAK integrated targeting system (Collins Aerospace)

LAND FORCES 2022 — Collins Aerospace, which is very active in All Domain Operations communications work in the United States, is pursuing similar work here in Australia, focusing a great deal on data sharing and connectivity.

“In a nutshell, we see applicability of the technology we’re bringing forward in the US to Australia when it comes to, you know, things like resilient, autonomous networks. So that’s one component of our solution space for the connected battlespace,” Richard Jerome, senior director for business development of the company’s mission systems, told Breaking Defense during the first day of Australia’s Land Forces conference.

One of the most important defense programs for Collins here is part of what Australia’s military calls Land 17, Phase 2. Collins (which is now a unit of Raytheon Technologies) builds next-generation Digital Terminal Control Systems , a targeting system that Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and Joint Forward Observers use to bring steel onto targets using land, sea or air platforms. The contract was awarded in July 2021.

While Australia hasn’t formally committed to the concept of All Domain operations, much of its defense planning bears the hallmarks of the Pentagon effort, with heavy focus on communications from satellites to subs to aircraft and to troops on the ground, in order to cover the vast distances of Australia and the Asia-Pacific region within which it operates. With an eye on such work, as well as on the substantial commercial and civil aviation work Collins does in the region, the company has greatly expanded its workforce, going from 100 to 150 in the last 12 months.

“That’s been on the back of really focusing our energies to maintain capability in country, so we get a lot of the technology and even down to the source code. I mean, seriously, software comes into the country, and we develop it at a local level for specific applications, you know, for defense,” Sonny Foster, managing director for Collins Aerospace mission systems, said. “In some cases, over at least the past decade, we’ve been developing that software from the US, modifying it locally for Australian Defence Force needs, and, actually, some other regional customers in Asia-Pacific.”

Collins M-Code diver unit

Collins M-Code diver navigation unit. Developed with UK-based Blue Print Subsea. Credit: Collins Aerospace

Another reason for the Collins expansion is JP 9347 Phase 1. In plainer English, it’s Australia’s effort to build a Joint Data Network (JDN) which includes tactical data links, the Integrated Broadcast System and other machine-to-machine data links used by the ADF and allies. It sounds a fair amount like the American effort to create Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), designed for commanders to prosecute high-speed, globe-spanning conflict by linking all US military sensors to all shooters across the land, sea, air, space and cyberspace domains.

Collins is partnering with Raytheon Technologies to provide the Datalink Gateway technology for the JDN.

Sooner described JP 9347 as an important effort for the company because it’s going to give Australia “a very comprehensive capability, and a really big first step into the connected battlespace and digital connected battle space. And, quite frankly, our company is really excited about this because it’s going to be a key enabler of what we’re doing in the US and with some of the other Five Eyes nations. So they’ll take what we’re doing here and utilize it elsewhere.”

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