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Penten tunes into securing Defence's tactical comms needs, secures SICP grant

Canberra-based, Australian cyber technology company Penten has established a specialist business unit dedicated to securing sovereign communication technologies for defence and emergency services.

Canberra-based, Australian cyber technology company Penten has established a specialist business unit dedicated to securing sovereign communication technologies for defence and emergency services.

Penten’s new business unit, Tactical Communications Security, aims to support Australian industry in the delivery of secure and easy-to-use communication technologies that are compatible across military, emergency and humanitarian applications.

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The company's new unit was launched at Penten’s Canberra headquarters by Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price who also announced Penten had secured a $520,000 Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant, as part of the government's commitment to supporting the construction of a secure facility fitted with information communications technology infrastructure.

Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price said, "Penten is a great example of a small business working with Defence to deliver leading-edge capability for our service men and women. It is businesses like Penten that provide us confidence that our ADF will maintain its capability edge into the future."

Headed by Penten’s chief technology officer, Merik Karman, the new business unit has a team of 10 dedicated people specialising in advanced electronics, waveforms, cryptography, photonics, field programmable gate arrays and high assurance security. 

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The new Tactical Communications Security business unit is working with some of Australia’s leading radio manufacturers to secure new communications solutions focused on Defence requirements.

Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said the company realised, and sought to address new communications security needs, a missing link in Australia’s sovereign radio technologies, "We knew that Penten had the capability and the expertise to develop and provide support and solutions to Australia’s radio communications companies to meet Defence needs, allowing those in uniform to focus on doing their job rather than managing technology."

With multiple contracts already and the ability to draw on Penten’s Secure Mobility and Applied AI business units and 100-strong team for specialist resources, the new business unit is forecast to grow rapidly creating more high value engineering jobs in Australia.

Wilson said the sovereign secure communications technologies being developed would:

  • Harness the critical advanced manufacturing skills and expertise within Australia;
  • Allow different Defence elements to co-ordinate and communicate effectively, easily and securely; and
  • Deliver highly complex technologies, in a simple solution to enable the focus on the mission.

Karman said he had evaluated and researched radio technologies in recent years, in a mission to extend existing technology and transform it into a modern solution that was more secure and user-friendly.

"We are working intimately with Australia’s leading radio specialists to combine their expertise with Penten’s secure mobility technology to develop a truly sovereign secure communication solution," Karman said.

Minister Price added, "The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants Program helps to make our small and medium businesses more competitive and our supply chains more secure."

One of the projects the team is already currently engaged is the C4 EDGE Program, launched in August 2020.

Penten is a cyber technology company based in Canberra. The business started in 2014 and has since grown rapidly to around 100 staff.

Penten delivers innovative, purpose-built cyber technology for Defence and government users and exports its products globally. The business focuses on providing secure mobility, applied artificial intelligence and tactical communications security to government users to provide a competitive advantage in the age of cyber warfare.

Penten’s innovations have won high profile awards: 2018 Business of the Year at the Telstra Business Awards, Most Innovative Company at the AFR and Boss awards 2019, and Cyber Business of the Year at the Australian Defence Industry Awards 2019.

Karman is currently listed as a finalist in the Defence Connect 2020 Australian Defence Industry Awards as Innovator of the Year.

Launched in August 2020, C4 EDGE (Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment) is a communications program bringing together 23 Australian sovereign C4 (command control communications and computers) subject matter experts leveraging internationally agreed upon standards to scope a proof of concept demonstration of a sovereign land battlegroup and below communications environment for the Australian Army by the end of 2021.

The demonstration will showcase the capability of Australian Industry to further develop a protected, integrated and supportable sovereign system: one that delivers agile and resilient C2 functionality to meet the flexible, scalable and interoperability needs of a battlegroup operating independently or with partners.

Penten tunes into securing Defence's tactical comms needs, secures SICP grant
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