The Commonwealth government has tasked the global contractor with leading the delivery of high-frequency communications capability to the ADF as part of a broader multibillion-dollar investment.
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Defence has awarded a contract to Babcock for the provision of an Enhanced Defence High-Frequency Communications System (EDHFCS) to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under the JP 9101 project.
The new capability will be designed to provide Australian and allied armed forces with the ability to securely communicate using voice and data in support of key regional and global military operations.
The 10-year contract, commencing in October 2023, forms part of the Commonwealth government's $1.96 billion commitment to upgrading communications infrastructure across the country.
This is expected to involve building a new communication site near Darwin and establishing a software development centre in Adelaide.
“In partnership with Babcock Pty Ltd, Defence will grow and strengthen Australian industry’s high-frequency communications capacity, further developing workforce skills, knowledge and expertise that are central to delivering this leading-edge capability,” Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said.
“This will complement Defence’s investment in secure and resilient satellite communications to support our soldiers, sailors and aviators on operations at home and abroad.
“Australia and our international partners will use these latest advances in command-and-control methods over the coming decades.”
Babcock’s offering is expected to leverage the company’s Intelligent Network and Serial Protocol Interface for Radio Equipment (INSPIRE), built to simplify upgrades and reconfiguration.
David Ruff, Babcock’s chief executive officer, Australasia, said this latest contract would build on the company’s work with New Zealand and the United Kingdom’s defence ministries.
“In a modern threat environment, access to local communication infrastructure or satellite communication cannot be assured. Having a communications capability that can work seamlessly with the ADF and its allies is an essential requirement for military operations,” Ruff added.
“Our selection reinforces confidence in our ability to bring together complex and critical digital defence capability to meet the needs of our customers, an area of increasing importance to our global customers.”
Lockheed Martin Australia has been selected as Babcock’s principal partner, tasked with supporting the delivery of mission system elements.
This is tipped to help produce an industrial capability solution, capable of providing through life support over the duration of the program.
According to Babcock, the majority of works commissioned as part of the contract would be undertaken in Australia.
Ruff went on to note the benefits of the work for the local economy.
“The project will create more than 150 new jobs, most of which will be located in Adelaide where a contract support facility will be established. This will, together with existing defence programs such as AIR 2025 JORN, create an economic cluster in high-frequency technologies in South Australia,” he said.
“The remainder of staff will be situated across multiple regional centres in Exmouth, Wagga Wagga, Townsville, Darwin, as well as an operations support facility [in] Canberra.”
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