Massive – and modern
Raytheon tech forges the future of the world's largest test and evaluation range
When militaries around the world need a place to test their weapons and fly their new fighter jets, there’s nowhere better than the rugged expanses of South Australia.
That’s the site of the Woomera Test Range – the world’s largest overland proving ground for aircraft, radars and weapons systems. At 50,000 square miles, it’s bigger than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and only slightly smaller than England. And it is in the midst of a technological revolution.
The Australian government is replacing Woomera’s decades-old test and evaluation equipment as it gets ready to host F-35 fighters and other next-generation weapon systems, and it has chosen Raytheon to do the job. The $228 million (AU$297 million) effort includes updates in command and control, telemetry tracking, flight-termination systems, multi-spectral optical tracking, radar, surveillance and communications systems, as well as an initial five-year contract to support range operations.
“The scope and breadth of this undertaking is really unprecedented in this area of test and evaluation work,” said Chris Patscheck, who manages Raytheon’s Mobile Range® program – a package of quickly deployable flight-test instrumentation. “Nobody has taken as holistic approach to range modernization as have the Australians.”
Bringing Woomera into the future is a massive undertaking, and it starts with the Mobile Range system. This set of technologies will be integrated with other Raytheon tools including command-and-control software and architectural monitor and control systems. Raytheon Australia is adding to that foundation with radars, communications equipment and mobile command shelters from a team of industry suppliers. Along with the hardware components, Raytheon Australia is including software for planning and tracking, as well as post-flight processing and replay capabilities.
Together, those tools and technologies will bring the future to a range that the United States and its allies use extensively. The Woomera project will expand the range’s ability to test new weapon systems and platforms such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the next-generation weapons and sensors being integrated into the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
“As much as this solution is about the range itself, there is also significant innovation in how we design and implement the architecture for something this complex,” said Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president.
The effort marks a further expansion of U.S.-Australian cooperation. It will provide a step toward joint operations in what’s known as live, virtual and constructive exercises – essentially allowing commanders to conduct tests in real time on opposite sides of the world.
The Woomera update marks the largest international sale of the Mobile Range system, which is already in use in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
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