• The Medium SATCOM Terminal (at rear) in development for Project Currawong. 
Nigel Pittaway
    The Medium SATCOM Terminal (at rear) in development for Project Currawong. Nigel Pittaway

Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) this week commissioned a $7.5 million purpose-built assembly and test facility at Wacol, southwest of Brisbane, initially to deliver the next phases of the ADF’s Land 2072 Phase 2B (Currawong, Integrated Battlefield Telecommunications Network [ITBN]) program.

The 7,300 square metre facility was opened by Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price in an official ceremony on October 28.

“The opening of these facilities today means that the ADF will have a state-of-the-art assembly and testing site right here in Queensland. This facility will play an instrumental role in delivering Project Currawong, which is a $700 million contract with the federal government, directly to Boeing Defence,” Minister Price said.

“The IBTN is a network which has already revolutionised the way our defence force communicates and will continue to revolutionise the way Defence plans and also executes its communications. It will give the defence force the advanced, agile and adaptable technology that a modern military needs, while also helping to build our sovereign capability.”

The new facility features a large Electromagnetic Interference/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMI/EMC) chamber, together with a number of environmental test chambers, including Thermal Shock (testing equipment between -30 and +70 degrees centigrade), Solar Radiation, Dust, Vibration and Salt facilities.

The second half of the building is dedicated to an integration area, where all the components of Currawong can be assembled and tested together, including a Thales Bushmaster, which is the prototype vehicle for the development of a Headquarters on the Move (HQOTM) capability. Eighteen HQOTM Bushmasters will be delivered in a future release of Land 2072 equipment.

“Before this facility was built, we had to send equipment interstate and even overseas to be tested, now we can do it right here, quickly and to the most rigorous standards,” BDA acting VP and MD Scott Carpendale said. “This enables us to be more agile in our development, to identify and address issues earlier and to deliver capability to the ADF faster. Currawong will not only be an outstanding capability for the Australian Army and RAAF, but also creates a global export opportunity for locally-developed products.”

Around 270 suppliers contribute to the program, more than 200 of which are from across Australia. These include local suppliers such as Hetech, Intellidesign, Masters and Young and also Nowra-based Air Affairs, all of whom had their products on display.

Darcy Rawlinson, Business Development Manager for BDA, said export opportunities include the British Army, which has Wide Area Network capability for its headquarters under its Trinity Program and the US Army, which is looking to upgrade its integrated tactical communications network (WIN-T).

In addition, there are opportunities within the ADF beyond the Land domain.

“The Navy is looking to upgrade their Maritime Tactical Wide Area Network under Sea 1442 Phase 5, so we can offer technology based on what we’ve already delivered for Currawong,” Rawlinson said. “So, we’re keen to work with Navy to develop a true Joint Communications Network for the ADF.”

Final testing for Release 2 of Land 2072 Phase 2B equipment is now in the final stages within the Wacol facility prior to deliveries to Defence beginning during the course of next year. Release 3, which includes the Bushmaster HQOTM capability, is now entering the Detailed Design Review (DDR) phase.

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