Key defence role for Perth software team

A TEAM of Perth-based software programmers has played a key role in the development of the Australian army’s new armed reconnaissance helicopter.

Defence Minister Robert Hill unveiled the first of the Tiger helicopters in France last week.

Australian company ADI is configuring the European designed helicopters to meet Australian defence force requirements.

ADI’s main software development centre is located in Nedlands and employs approximately 150 staff.

Of these, about 25 have been working for the past two years on the ground mission management system for the new helicopters 

ADI operations manager Perth, Graham Bartlett, said the systems being developed in Perth would be critical to mission planning.

They feature three dimensional computer simulations so that flight crews can preview upcoming missions before take-off.

Landscape data, ideally based on low level aerial photography, and other information such as the location of missile systems, can be loaded onto the system to create a 3D fly-through.

Mr Bartlett said the system allowed information to be exchanged during a mission to reflect any changes.

The system records all significant events during a mission, so that military personnel can effectively replay a 3D visual record of the mission after the event.

Mr Bartlett said the software development being undertaken in Perth complemented work in Sydney to customise the onboard software on the helicopters.

The Australian army has ordered 22 of the new Tiger helicopters from European company Eurocopter, which operates in Australia through its subsidiary Australian Aerospace.

Four of the helicopters are being manufactured in France and the remainder are being assembled in Brisbane.

When completed in mid 2005, the helicopters will be stationed at Robertson near Darwin.

The location of ADI’s main software development centre in Perth dates back to the acquisition of Universal Defence Systems in the early 1990s.

The Perth software team is working on several major projects, including the $1 billion upgrade of the navy’s guided missile frigates.

The upgrade – the most extensive ever undertaken on warships in Australia – will significantly enhance the frigates’ combat systems.

Another major defence project is the development of command support systems, which are designed to help command teams work faster and more effectively.

ADI is also adapting information systems developed for defence applications so they can be applied to civil uses.

Specifically, it is developing a single integrated information and revenue collection system to replace the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s current motor vehicle registration and driver licensing system.

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