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Defence starts JP9102 indigenous SATCOM project

A U.S. Marine Corps signaller with a mobile SATCOM system during EX Talisman Sabre 2018. Photo: US Dept of Defense via Defence

The Australian government has announced plans for substantial investments in space technology, including Australia’s first fully owned and controlled military satellite communication constellation, as part of its $7 billion investment in space capabilities over the next 10 years.

“The Australian Defence Satellite Communications System project will be a critical enabler for the future operational capability of Defence, by providing real?time operational and logistical information which is essential for the command and control of deployed forces,” she said. “In our increasingly information-dependant warfighting domains, it will provide Australian controlled communications and assured access for the ADF and for others including Emergency Services.”

Defence has not stated a value for the Australian Defence SATCOM System (ADSS) project, JP9102, but industry estimates out it at up to $3 billion. A Request for Tender will be released in late 2020 for the sovereign controlled SATCOM capability. Defence aims to engage a single prime contractor to deliver, upgrade and sustain the capability over its life of type.  EX2 understands the new system could start entering service around 2027-28

The new future satellite communications capability will supplement, and then replace, the existing Defence satellite communications system, with a focus on supporting operations within the Indo-Pacific region. The sovereign controlled system will be augmented by contracted commercial satellite communications and industry partners, to assure resilient communications globally for the ADF across a range of space operations.

“This Government recognises the importance of developing technologies locally, to protect our space assets while also offering opportunities to export these space capabilities to our allies and international partners,” Minister Reynolds said. “Over the next 15 years, Defence, in cooperation with the Australian Space Agency, will invest $50 million in the Australian Space Industry for research and innovation in satellite communication technologies for future consideration.”

Potential opportunities for Australian industry involvement include software development, systems integration, facilities construction, system operators, sustainment, and participation in the supply chain through manufacture and supply of sub-systems and components.

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