Australien — Enhanced communications for deployed forces

The Min­is­ter for Defence, Sen­a­tor John Faulkn­er, today announced that the Gov­ern­ment has approved a sig­nif­i­cant ini­tia­tive to enhance com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port to the Aus­tralian Defence Force, includ­ing in the Mid­dle East Area of Oper­a­tions.

Under Defence Capa­bil­i­ty Plan Joint Project 2008 Phase 5A, Defence is already in the process of acquir­ing part of the Intel­sat IS-22 UHF pay­load pro­vid­ing cov­er­age over the Indi­an Ocean Region. A con­tract for the pro­vi­sion of this pay­load was signed with Intel­sat in April 2009.

Today’s announce­ment involves approval to exer­cise the Government’s option to pur­chase the full ultra-high fre­quen­cy (UHF) pay­load on the Intel­sat IS-22 com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite at an addi­tion­al cost of around $193 mil­lion. This brings the total IS-22 pay­load pur­chase cost to $475.1 mil­lion.

“Pur­chas­ing the full satel­lite pay­load will improve oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness and enhance the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port to Australia’s deployed forces in the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan,” Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er said.

Coin­cid­ing with the vis­it by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Defense Vice Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen­er­al James Cartwright, Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er also announced that Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States have signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing (MOU) on shar­ing their nar­row­band UHF com­mu­ni­ca­tions resources.

“This ini­tia­tive will pro­vide the Unit­ed States added com­mu­ni­ca­tions capac­i­ty for its oper­a­tions in Afghanistan by util­is­ing the Aus­tralian pay­load on the IS-22 com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite. In turn the Aus­tralian Defence Force will gain access to com­mu­ni­ca­tions capac­i­ty over the Pacif­ic Ocean region from Unit­ed States’ satel­lite resources,” Sen­a­tor Faulkn­er said.

The UHF Com­mu­ni­ca­tions MOU com­ple­ments the Wide­band Glob­al Sys­tem satel­lite part­ner­ship between Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States. The arrange­ment will result in sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings for both nations, pro­vide a more robust com­mu­ni­ca­tions capa­bil­i­ty for the warfight­er and add anoth­er dimen­sion to the Aus­tralian-US Alliance.

The satel­lite will be launched by the Intel­sat Cor­po­ra­tion in 2012.

US Vice Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen­er­al James Cartwright and Vice Chief of the Defence Force Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al David Hur­ley exchanged the SATCOM MOU in Can­ber­ra today.

Aus­tralian Min­istry of Defence