The Woomera Test Range (WTR) in South Australia is the largest land-based range in the world. It is used by the Australian Defence Force and its Allied partners to test advanced platform and weapon systems.
The WTR is managed and operated by the RAAF Aerospace Operational Support Group (AOSG) and has been a vital, strategic Defence asset since 1953.
The AOSG faced an increasingly acute problem with unreliable and unsupportable tracking radars at the Range. The accuracy of these radars is critical for conducting complex aircraft and missile test and evaluation trials.
BAE Systems Australia identified an opportunity to acquire a powerful MPS-36 tracking radar owned by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Working closely with BAE Systems, the Royal Australian Air Force conducted an extensive evaluation of the MPS-36 in situ at ESRANGE, above the Arctic Circle in Sweden.
BAE Systems was awarded the contract to install and commission the MPS-36 radar (which was gifted to Defence by DLR). The project included transferring the radar from Sweden, site preparation and installation at Woomera. Supported by German Aerospace and local contractors, BAE Systems successfully completed the project and the radar was fully operational in November 2005.
BAE Systems’ strong relationship with the overseas supplier was key to the customer acquiring the powerful MPS-36 free of charge.
The MPS-36 is now the primary radar at the Woomera Test Range and has been used for tracking numerous objects, including the hypersonic deep space re-entry of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft in 2010.
A major benefit of the acquisition was enabling the customer to become part of the Instrumentation Radar Support Program (IRSP), a jointly funded sustainment program for radars, telemetry and optical tracking systems overseen by the US Air Force. Its members include the US Army, NASA, Energy Department and international users in the United Kingdom, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Australia. The program works as a cooperative, allowing participants to share the costs for maintenance and upgrading. BAE Systems Inc has been the lead contractor for the Program since 1986.
BAE Systems’ extensive experience at Woomera, our close relationship with a key supplier and access to the IRSP, as well as our commitment to finding innovative solutions, ensured that the Woomera Test Range could continue its critical testing programs.