CABLEX AND WB GROUP PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT ADF EMERGING REQUIREMENTS FOR LOITERING MUNITIONS
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
In November 2017 in Poland, Minister Pyne witnessed the signing of an Agreement between Australian defence SME Cablex and WB Electronics (WB), Poland’s leading developer of unmanned air vehicles and loitering munitions.
Since then, the two companies have explored possibilities to collaborate to meet emerging ADF capability requirements for autonomous systems, based on world-leading WB designs, adapted and enhanced by Cablex to provide underpinning and improved Australian sovereign capabilities, particularly in the emerging area of loitering munitions.
Cablex and WB have now finalised an agreement to focus on an Australianised version of the Warmate loitering munition of which WB has sold over 1,000 systems which are now in operational service with Poland, Ukraine, and other nations in Europe and Asia.
The Project Agreement was signed in front of the Minister for Defence Industry the Honourable Steven Ciobo and Polish Ambassador Michał Kołodziejski at the Avalon Air Show. This designates Cablex as the Prime System Integrator for Warmate for the ADF and potentially for other nations with which Australia has special relationships including the Five Eyes partners and countries in the Pacific and Asia. As PSI, Cablex would build on its already high reputation as a national and international systems supplier to assure comprehensive sustainment of Warmate locally.
The current Warmate is a battle-proven small/medium loitering munition weighing 5 kg with an endurance exceeding 60 minutes, a range of over 15 kilometres, and a variety of warheads suited to armoured and unarmoured targets. It is canister launched and is capable of being either carried by infantry or mounted on armoured vehicles. The Warmate in its current configuration may have applications for Army and SAS roles and Cablex supported by WB is proposing to bring systems to Australia for trials.
Subject to the outcome of those trials, Cablex has identified possibilities for Australian sovereign enhancement of Warmate, including further improving its ISR capability for sustained local area surveillance, encrypted linkage into wider ADF ISR systems, improved warhead technology with local manufacture, and a multiple system launcher customised to fit a variety of ADF armoured and protected vehicles.
We are currently working on comparative costing to determine the maximum level of local content which could be achieved for manufacture, system integration and sustainment of Warmate systems in Australia both for local and regional requirements.
Preliminary estimates based on local manufacture of the airframe, the sensor package, the warheads and launch systems followed by continuing sustainment and upgrades would contribute on average 25 to 30 new jobs at Cablex and around the same number in specialist suppliers. This excludes the additional employment generated by integration of the Warmate system into AFVs.
An ultimate goal will also be to provide AFVs such as Boxer with a bolt-on launcher allowing Warmate launch, surveillance and strike operations controlled and monitored entirely from within the armoured vehicle, maximising operator protection.
To develop these enhancements, Cablex is in process of assembling a team of experienced defence and industry suppliers, such as DST Group, CDIC, Universities and SMEs. The capabilities developed locally will allow continuing upgrading of Warmate as improved technologies become available and will also be transferrable to other small autonomous systems in air, land and sea domains.
Autonomous systems are continuously growing in importance to ISREW capabilities, worldwide, with loitering munitions among the most recent application and the Warmate opportunity provides Australia with a low risk baseline of a proven platform, with self-reliance achieved in key system elements by the potential enhancements.