Morrison Government Invests in a New Sovereign-Controlled Satellite Capability
(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued July 13, 2020)
As announced in the Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan, the Morrison Government is taking the first step towards investing in Australia’s first fully owned and controlled military satellite communication constellation, as part of its $7 billion investment in space capabilities over the next 10 years.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the significant investment demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s space assets and increasing our self‑reliance and resilience.

“The Australian Defence Satellite Communications System project will be a critical enabler for the future operational capability of Defence, by providing real‑time operational and logistical information which is essential for the command and control of deployed forces,” Minister Reynolds said.

“In our increasingly information-depend[e]nt warfighting domains, it will provide Australian controlled communications and assured access for the ADF and for others including Emergency Services.”

The new future satellite communications capability will supplement, and then replace, the existing Defence satellite communications system, with a focus on supporting operations within the Indo-Pacific region.

The sovereign controlled system will be augmented by contracted commercial satellite communications and industry partners, to assure resilient communications globally for the ADF across a range of space operations.

“This Government recognises the importance of developing technologies locally, to protect our space assets while also offering opportunities to export these space capabilities to our allies and international partners,” Minister Reynolds said.

“Over the next 15 years, Defence, in cooperation with the Australian Space Agency, will invest $50 million in the Australian Space Industry for research and innovation in satellite communication technologies for future consideration.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said it was an important investment that would support Australian industry more broadly than just the space sector.

“Investments like this is in our sovereign capability have a substantial flow-on effect through our supply chains – and that means jobs for Australians,” Minister Andrews said.

“That is what is so powerful about space. You’re creating opportunities for a broad range of industries to be involved in the projects, as well as developing technologies and capability that will support the advancement of those very same industries and beyond.”

A Request for Tender is set to be released in late 2020 for the sovereign controlled satellite communications capability, which aims to engage a single prime contractor to deliver, upgrade and sustain the capability over its life of type.

Potential opportunities for Australian industry involvement include software development, systems integration, facilities construction, system operators, sustainment, and participation in the supply chain through manufacture and supply of sub-systems and components.

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