• Image: Boeing
    Image: Boeing

Boeing has built ground architecture and control systems for Australia’s first defence satellites under its offer for the JP 9102 program.

ADM understands a down-select is imminent for the JP 9102 program. Five companies have bid for the tender: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Optus, and Northrop Grumman.

The Boeing systems leverage technology from the company’s US Wideband Global Satellite and UHF space programs, along with its Australian-developed Currawong Battlespace Communications System’s Mission System Manager.

“Our advanced ground architecture is the culmination of six years of development between Australia and the US," said Scott Carpendale, Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director.

"It builds on proven software solutions to ensure the ADF has the capability to manage operations within Australian borders, giving total control over JP9102 and future space missions.”

Boeing’s advanced mission planning system controls end-to-end satellite operations from a centralised operations centre.

Through automation, Boeing has streamlined workflows and reduced the overall workload for satellite operators as they control payloads and monitor for threats.

“We are ready and equipped to deliver ground systems that can maintain the connectivity, efficiency and resilience of the ADF’s satellite communications system," said Carpendale.

"This includes upskilling our local workforce to support an accelerated schedule and to transition existing JP2008 systems and infrastructure.

“And, as the core software architecture is being developed on open standards, the ADF and local industry will have the ability to adapt and modify it locally, ensuring sovereignty and the flexibility to support future Commonwealth constellations.”

Defence’s current MILSATCOM capability is provided by commercial satellites with a hybrid military/civil payload, such the Optus C-1 and Intelsat 22, and via access to the US military Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS) network through JP2008.

The original timeline for JP9102 called for the first satellite to become operational in 2026, with a full capability in the early 2030s. A down-select is anticipated shortly and contract award in early 2023. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned around 2027, at which point the transition from the WGS network is expected to begin.

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