The Australian Government has approved additional funds to enhance communications support to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) active in the Middle East area of operations, according to the Defence Minister John Faulkner.

An approximately A$193m grant has been approved to acquire the Intelsat IS-22 UHF payload providing coverage over the Indian Ocean Region as part of the original contract awarded in April 2009 under the defence capability plan joint project 2008 phase 5A.

The ADF is in the process of acquiring part of the Intelsat IS-22 UHF payload and the present contract brings the total IS-22 payload purchase cost to A$475.1m.

Faulkner said that purchasing the full satellite payload would improve operational effectiveness and enhance the communications support to Australia’s deployed forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

UHF communications is a satellite partnership between Australia and the US, and the satellite is scheduled to be launched by the Intelsat Corporation in 2012.