Asia Defense

Australia Tests Cooperative Engagement Capability on Air Warfare Destroyer

Australia’s new guided-missile destroyers successfully tested a new wide-area air defense system this month.

Australia Tests Cooperative Engagement Capability on Air Warfare Destroyer
Credit: Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance

The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) first-of-class air warfare destroyer HMAS Hobart and its sister ship NUSHIP Brisbane have successfully completed a series of user trials this month to test the so-called cooperative engagement capability (CEC), a new wide-area integrated air defense system, the Australian Department of Defense (DoD) said on April 17. CEC allows the real-time sharing of sensor data on air targets, including incoming enemy aircraft and cruise missiles, among CEC-equipped warships.

The CEC tests took place over the past few weeks off the coast of South Australia. CEC allows one ship to engage an incoming target based on the other ship’s data. The Hobart-class air warfare destroyers are the first warships outside the U.S. Navy to be equipped with CEC. CEC “is one technology that will form a part of the Australian Joint Integrated Fires Capability being implemented in the Australian Defense Force,” the DoD added.

“Together Hobart and Brisbane bring revolutionary air defense capabilities – not by adding new radars or weapon systems, but by utilizing existing sensors and weapons in a more effective manner,” Australian Minister of Defense Marise Payne said. “In the coming years, the Australian Joint Integrated Fires capability will link our ships, aircraft and land-based assets to create an increasingly sophisticated air defense network that can see over the horizon.”

In her statement, Payne emphasized that CEC will enable closer cooperation between the RAN and its most important ally, the U.S. Navy:

Not only does this capability enable us, for the first time, to share targeting data in real time between ADF assets, it will also enable us to share it with United States assets, providing new levels of interoperability within a coalition force. Australia is the first international partner outside the United States to gain access to this cutting-edge technology, further demonstrating the strong alliance between our two countries.

CEC interfaces with the Aegis combat system and will enhance its early detection capabilities. The new Hobart-class is the RAN’s first surface warship to be built around the U.S.-made Aegis combat system. “Each ship will be equipped with the AN/SPY-1, an advanced, automatic detect and track, multi-function phased-array radar system, which will be paired with the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, capable of firing Raytheon’s Standard Missiles (SM) of all variants as well as the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile,” I explained last year. “The SPY-1 is the heart of the Aegis combat system.”

CEC is currently being installed on the third ship of the Hobart-class, the future HMAS Sydney, which is expected to be delivered to the RAN in March 2020.