The Australian Government has marked the start of construction on a new Defence Satellite Ground Station at the Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) in Kapooka, New South Wales (NSW) by turning the first sod.

Dubbed Wideband Satellite Capability, the new project involved the acquisition and sustainment of a new satellite ground station in the east (SGS-E) of Australia.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said the project has been designed to support the implementation of a wideband satellite communications (SATCOM) network management system (NMS) in the region.

Currently being built in the Riverina region of NSW, the $24m defence satellite ground station will provide site and frequency redundancy to the Wideband Global Satellites visible from mainland Australia.

“This is a wonderful result for the Riverina and Kapooka Army Base to remain a vital cog in Australia’s Defence Force network into the future.”

McCormack said: “I’m pleased to be at Kapooka – The Home of the Soldier – today with representatives from the project’s contractors, Northrop Grumman Australia and Viasat, for this ground-breaking activity which will provide flexibility to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) wideband beyond line-of-sight communications.”

He added: “This is a wonderful result for the Riverina and Kapooka Army Base to remain a vital cog in Australia’s Defence Force network into the future.”

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According to Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, the project will provide the ADF with an end-to-end communications service consistent with the operational requirement for network-enabled operations.

Pyne said: “Today’s ceremony represents the beginning of construction work which is critical to the broader $220m programme to significantly enhance the communications capability of the ADF while providing local jobs during the construction phase.”

Slated for completion in 2021, the new ground station together with the Wideband SATCOM NMS will ensure a complete satellite communications network management and situational awareness capability to the ADF.