The Australian Department of Defence has secured second pass approval from the government to move ahead with Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B1 satellite communications project.
The government has approved approximately $180m for the project, which is expected to significantly increase the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) satellite communications capabilities.
The project covers the acquisition of transportable land terminals capable of adequately supporting deployed headquarters to equip ADF elements, while also upgrading existing satellite communications fitted on the Royal Australian Navy platforms.
The project will also establish networked terminal monitoring and control systems.
Supplied by Raytheon Australia and its subcontractor, L-3 Communications, the terminals will be allocated to various deployable units of the ADF throughout the country.
In particular, the investment will significantly increase the ADF utilisation of the US's Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system, by providing increased capacity to deployed forces.
In November 2007, the Australian Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to access the first six WGS satellites until September 2029 in exchange for funding the acquisition and sustainment for the sixth satellite for approximately $800m.
The total cost of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B is cost capped between $300m and $500m in the Public Defence Capability Plan.
Satellite communications are claimed to be a critical enabler of ADF operations, connecting the soldiers on the ground with command and control, intelligence, geospatial and logistics information.
Meanwhile, the JP2008 Phase 5B2-Wideband Terrestrial Infrastructure project has secured first pass approval and is in the capability development phase, as reported by Asia Pacific Defence Reporter.