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Government backing Aussie know-how for Army comms prototyping

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the Commonwealth government is investing up to $35 million in the remaining phase of a program in which 18 small businesses are designing, developing and manufacturing a military communications prototype.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the Commonwealth government is investing up to $35 million in the remaining phase of a program in which 18 small businesses are designing, developing and manufacturing a military communications prototype.

Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited is pleased to announce a AU$34.4m contract award by the Commonwealth of Australia for the Command Control Communications and Computers – Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment (C4 EDGE) program, with EOS Defence Systems (EOS DS) as the prime contractor for an all-Australian industry consortium to demonstrate a sovereign Battlegroup and Below Battlefield Command system (BG-BCS).

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This commitment by the Morrison government and the Australian Army will support the development of innovative local businesses capable of providing our armed forces with the critical, world-leading communications solutions they will require into the future.

EOS DS will lead 18 Australian businesses in the C4 EDGE program to demonstrate local industry’s ability to provide battle critical communications solutions for the land domain, the C4 EDGE program highlights Australian industry’s ability to deliver critical sovereign communication solutions for the Australian Army.

The small businesses will complete their prototypes by the end of 2021.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the C4 EDGE program had enabled small businesses from almost every state and territory to deliver a proof-of-concept for mobile tactical communications systems.

Minister Price said software and hardware builds and testing activities would follow.

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“Up to 53 jobs are expected to be generated across the project’s entire 18-month lifespan, which will include local design and manufacturing of critical defence capabilities, such as mobile tactical communications systems,” Minister Price said.

C4 EDGE is a defence industry co-operative of C4 subject matter experts leading a communications program scoping the demonstration of a sovereign land battlegroup and below communications environment for the Australian Army.

Minister Price added, “The remaining phase of the project includes the development of the tactical communications prototype, which includes waveform, cryptography, satellite-enabled friendly-force tracking, radio and hardware manufacture.”

The C4 EDGE program will leverage internationally agreed open standards to grow and demonstrate Australian C4 (command control communications and computers) industry capacity and ability to deliver a battlegroup and below C4 capability demonstration.

Minister Price said, “This project delivers on the Morrison government’s vision to maximise Australia’s defence industry involvement in the acquisition, operation and sustainment of defence capability over the next decade.”

Grant Sanderson, CEO of EOS Defence Systems, built on these comments, adding, The C4 EDGE team represents the collaborative effort of world-class Australian companies for the benefit of the Australian Defence Force. The design, development and demonstration of the C4 EDGE solution over the next year will showcase the ability of Australian companies to produce high-tech materiel which EOS will integrate with its own technologies into world-class military systems.

The program will leverage the expertise and cutting-edge technologies of the all-Australian industry team that includes small and medium enterprises from across the nation. As the prime contractor, EOS DS will integrate these components to demonstrate a sovereign BG-BCS for the Army in November 2021.

The C4 EDGE solution will see EOS DS incorporate locally-sourced combat radios, satellite terminals, cryptography, networking middleware, command applications, user interfaces, batteries and power management into a coherent system. The program will utilise Australian design, production, workforce, intellectual property and supply chain in the development and demonstration of this capability.

“The program provides a model to continue growing a capable, connected and resilient sovereign defence industry that employs more Australians,” Sanderson added. 

A successful C4 EDGE capability will help address the Army’s significant future requirements for sovereign communications systems, the government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update lays out an investment pipeline for battlefield communications and command systems of between $5.0 billion and $7.5 billion over the next 20 years.

Ultimately, by the end of 2021 the program will have delivered a proof of concept demonstration that shows 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.

Defence has invested $3.85 million in the first phase of the C4 EDGE project, which concluded in early October, with all deliverables completed on schedule and within budget.

Government backing Aussie know-how for Army comms prototyping
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