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Cobham and Acacia Systems lead the way in aviation data systems

Mission Aircrew

The Cobham/Acacia partnership

Cobham and South Australian defence software and systems engineering company, Acacia Systems, have been collaborating on the development of a customized Mission Management System (MMS) for Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft in the defence and government domains for the past decade. This partnership has led to both innovation and local investment in South Australia, and importantly, significant Australian industry capability.

The partnership has enabled Acacia to enter into a new market segment, whilst enabling Cobham to develop a customer-specific, Australian developed, world-leading MMS capability.

State-of-the-art Mission Management System (MMS) technology

The sophisticated, state-of-the-art MMS technology that has been born from this collaboration is integrated into Cobham’s Challenger jet fleet that Cobham operates on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

It includes the latest generation sensors, ViDAR cameras, high-vision windows, and broadband satellite communication which allows real-time sharing of streamed video, audio, and imagery between the aircraft and the AMSA Response Centre in Canberra. The MMS manages all interaction and reporting, allowing AMSA’s search and rescue officers to be virtual crew members on board the aircraft with eyes and ears at the scene as an event unfolds.

This jointly developed MMS transformed the functional capability that could be delivered to AMSA, significantly enhancing Australia’s SAR response capability.

Through the partnership between Cobham and Acacia, this MMS technology is being continually developed, with potential to be utilised in both civil and military domains in Australia and overseas.

Australian sovereign capability

Prior to the development of this ISR system, Australian-based organisations have had to rely on importing foreign-developed MMS.

Using an Australian-based systems and software provider has many significant benefits:

  • Australian sovereign industry capability
  • Significant cost savings
  • Quicker turnaround time
  • Ease of systems upgrades
  • Advantages for obtaining through-life support of such systems over long in-service periods
  • Greater understanding of Australian requirements

With the increasing investment in ISR systems in Defence’s Integrated Investment Plan (IIP) and the identification of ‘surveillance and intelligence data collection, analysis, dissemination and complex systems integration’ as one of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities by Defence, an indigenous MMS and development capability is seen as a critical element for establishing and maintaining such a sovereign capability.

Ongoing Research & Development

Cobham and Acacia signed a 10-year strategic partnership agreement in 2018, to allow for an associated Research & Development (R&D) program to allow for further development of the MMS in an airborne ISR environment.

The MMS is continually evolving through dedicated activities to enhance its capability, versatility and performance. This will lead to further development and enhancement not only for the MMS installed in Cobham’s dedicated AMSA aircraft, but will also provide subsequent opportunities for both companies and their associated workforces.