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Australia launches sovereign satellite capability initiative

Illustration. Photo: NASA

The Australian government has taken the first step towards investing in the country’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.

As announced, the new future satellite communications capability will supplement, and then replace, the existing defense 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.

The government said 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.

“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,” Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds said.

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

“Over the next 15 years, defense, 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.”