Optus has announced that Mitsubishi Electric – MELCO – has joined Raytheon Australia and Thales Australia in its team bidding for prime contractorship on Defence’s $3 billion Satellite Communications (SATCOM) program, JP9102 Australia Defence Communication System.
JP9102 is designed to provide a sovereign, Australian-owned SATCOM capability based on a constellation of Australian-owned communications satellites in stationary orbit. Defence currently uses the US military’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) network, for which it paid for construction and launch of one of the 11 satellites, along with Inmarsat services on an as-needed basis.
Other contenders for JP9102 include Airbus Australia, Boeing Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia. Tenders closed in January this year and a decision is due later this calendar year.
Mitsubishi Electric will manufacture the satellites under the Team AUSSAT proposal. Optus and Mitsubishi Electric have a longstanding collaboration, including the highly successful Optus C1 satellite, which currently provides critical mission capabilities to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
“As a leader in the Australian space sector, Optus is thrilled that we can once again work closely with Mitsubishi Electric, further building on our Optus C1 success, and ensuring the highest design, build and launch standards from Team AUSSAT,” said Optus Chief Executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin.
“Our JP9102 proposal draws on the best in breed partnerships with Raytheon Australia, Thales Australia and now Mitsubishi Electric to deliver the ADF’s future satellite communications requirements while growing critical skills in the local technology and space sector. With our combined track record of performance successes, our best in class collaboration will deliver an unrivalled SATCOM solution designed in Australia, by Australians, for Australians.”
Mitsubishi Electric’s extensive space experience includes supplying more than 70 satellites as a prime contractor and providing onboard equipment for more than 500 spacecraft to customers around the world.
“Working together with Optus has been an enduring partnership providing satellite communication services to the ADF since 2003,” said Mitsubishi Electric Australia’s Managing Director, Jeremy Needham. “We are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to extend this relationship at a time when Australia and Japan’s defence cooperation has never been stronger. Development of closer space and defence industry ties with Japan and the contribution of Mitsubishi Electric will transform the local industry capability and builds on the almost 50 years of experience that Mitsubishi Electric have, working in Australia, delivering projects here and upskilling our people and partners.”
Established in 1974, Mitsubishi Electric Australia has a long history of assembling, testing and supporting products from its facility at Rydalmere in Sydney. As its defence business expands, Mitsubishi Electric Australia is already engaging with suppliers, such as indigenous employer Willyama Services, which is providing support in relation to the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP).