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Project of concern seeking more funds from government

air traffic control tower darwin
Image via Commonweath of Australia, Department of Defence.

Defence will be asking the government for more funds to go towards the Civil Military Air Traffic Management System, according to the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) latest Major Projects Report.

AIR 5431 Phase 3 Civil Military Air Traffic Management System (CMATS) was approved in 2014 and is meant to deliver the defence aspects of a harmonised civil/military air traffic management system under the OneSKY banner — collectively being led and managed by Airservices Australia.

However, the project is now 28 months behind. The project was due to cost $730.7 million, but the ANAO report said the government is expected to consider "real cost increase" in February. Airservices received the final offer from prime contractor Thales on 25 September last year, but at this stage no contract has been signed.

The Department said CMATS is a highly complex, inter-departmental project of national significance that has experienced some substantial challenges getting into contract. The challenges revolve around issues with ensuring value for money for the taxpayer. 

The ANAO said it is unable to forecast a new final operational capability date for the project until the primary acquisition contract is signed. 

CMATS, along with AIR 5431 Phase 1 Deployable Defence Air Traffic Management and Control System, was added to the projects of concern list, colloquially known as ‘the shame list’, in August last year. AIR 5431 Phase 1 aims to deliver a mix of mobile and transportable air traffic control radars and supporting equipment to allow defence to control and monitor air traffic while deployed on operations. Although the projects are under the same program, there is no dependency between the two and their inclusion on the projects of concern list is unrelated, according to Defence.

AIR 5431 Phase 3 is being progressed jointly with Airservices Australia Future Services Division program, collectively known as OneSKY Australia, to acquire, sustain and operate a more harmonised national air traffic management (ATM) system. Defence has previously said the future national ATM system architecture will cater for greater collaboration between Airservices and Defence, and that procurement of a common system will increase seamless ATM capability with minimal risk and enhance national airspace security and contingency response.

OneSKY is designed to merge separate Defence and Airservices Australia systems. Project AIR 5431 Phase 3 CMATS will acquire the Defence element of the civil/military air traffic management system that will be used for the provision of Air Base Air Traffic Services to both civil and military aircraft. CMATS will replace the air traffic management and control systems at nine military approach control sites and 12 military towers around Australia.

Project of concern seeking more funds from government
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