I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government will enter into a A$927 million partnership with the United States to access a world-leading communications capability provided by the new Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS) constellation.
Under our partnership arrangement, Australia will fund one satellite plus associated ground infrastructure to extend the constellation to six satellites and the US will fund the remaining five.
This new partnership will further strengthen the Australia-US alliance. It will enhance the close ties and high level of cooperation that already exists between Australian and US defence force personnel.
Access to the WGS constellation will build on the ADF’s ability to conduct multiple and simultaneous military operations independently or as part of a coalition force.
Secure and reliable satellite communications will be available to deployed forces, operational command and Australian headquarters.
WGS also will allow the ADF to realise the full potential of Network Centric Warfare within the next decade. WGS will enable the next generation of military capabilities, such as Air Warfare Destroyers, Amphibious Ships, Multi-mission Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Land platforms to achieve their full potency.
The WGS constellation of six satellites will provide a world-class capability in terms of global coverage, operational flexibility and bandwidth. It will support multiple simultaneous high-tempo operations and provide a high level of redundancy.
The first WGS satellite is being prepared for launch and will be operational by early 2008. The complete constellation of six satellites will be fully functional by 2013 and will comfortably handle the increase in ADF communications requirements over this time and out to at least 2024.
Achieving full operational WGS capability by 2013 also will coincide with the predicted capability drawdown of the SingTel/Optus C1 satellite. The SingTel/Optus C1 satellite will be an important element of Defence’s satellite capability until its end of life and will be maintained in parallel with WGS.
I expect to finalise the arrangement through the signing of a government-to-government Memorandum of Understanding shortly after the 30 day US Congressional Notification Period.
Australia to Join With United States In Defence Global Satellite Communications Capability