As speculation mounts over the tender decision for the billion-dollar Project AIR 2025 Phase 6 Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), Defence and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) remains firm on a delayed announcement date.
In a statement to Defence Connect, the Department of Defence said, despite the heated media and industry gossip, an announcement will not be made until the end of this year at the earliest.
"Defence released a limited request for tender to Lockheed Martin Australia and BAE Systems Australia in April 2016 for the upgrade of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) under Project AIR 2025 Phase 6," the statement reads.
"A public announcement on the status of the tender process is expected to be made in late 2017 or early 2018."
A decision on the project was expected as early as March this year, before being slated for May.
JORN is a world-class over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) that delivers visibility over Australia’s northern approaches, with a pedigree dating back to the 1970s when DSTO (now DST Group) started researching the technology.
The state-of-the-art system provides wide area surveillance at ranges of 1,000 to 3,000 kilometres and plays a vital role in supporting the Australian Defence Force’s air and maritime operations, border protection, disaster relief and search and rescue operations.
Supported by a control centre at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, the radars are located in three remote Australian locations including Laverton (Western Australia), Alice Springs (Northern Territory) and Longreach (Queensland),
The mammoth AIR 2025 Phase 6 project will support the operational life of JORN beyond 2042, with work expected to commence in 2018.
The project will improve the performance of JORN and involves the replacement of most of the radar and frequency management system hardware, information and communication technology hardware, the upgrade of software architecture and processing, as well as other specialised optional enhancements.
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Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems Australia are already engaged on current JORN contracts, with BAE Systems Australia responsible for maintenance and sustainment of the Alice Springs location. Lockheed Martin services the Longreach and Laverton locations, with the co-ordination centre at RAAF Edinburgh being shared between BAE systems and Lockheed Martin.