Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) has received approval from the Commonwealth for the second major release of capability for Defence’s Integrated Battlefield Telecommunications Network (IBTN), being delivered under Project Currawong (Joint Project 2072 Phase 2B).
The signing of the System Acceptance Audit (SAA) on April 9 represents the completion of exhaustive testing activities of the capabilities covered under the release, and now clears the way for the equipment to be rolled out to Army and RAAF units.
“Completion of Release 2 provides significant battlefield communication capability not previously available to the ADF,” BDA’s project Director Ian Vett said.
Release 2 builds on the Release 1 capability initially released to the ADF in September 2017, which supplied the core ‘Black’ (unsecured) network within man-portable units. A further equipment upgrade is expected to be delivered under Release 3 in the middle of 2021.
The enhanced capability being rolled out in Release 2 includes a Troposcatter Communication System, which uses pairs of 2.5 metre dishes to bounces communications signals from the Earth’s troposphere. The system provides the ADF with a Beyond Line Of Sight, long-range communications capability (up to 300 km) without reliance on satellite communications systems.
A second key bearer delivered under the release is the External Network Access Point (ENAP) which allows deployed units to securely access public networks, such as the internet, to send and receive data.
“ENAP is a game-changer, as it allows Army and Air Force units to securely use the internet anywhere in the world. It effectively allows you to use the internet as a bearer and it adds a number of security layers to it,” Vett explained.
Other aspects of the Release 2 capability include significant upgrades to the existing Mission System Manager delivered under the previous release.
BDA is responsible for initial training of ADF personnel and although this began earlier this year, ahead of the formal signing of the release, it has been somewhat complicated by the current restrictions on travel due to COVID-19. Delivery of equipment to units outside Queensland have also been affected by these restrictions but Vett says, providing these restrictions don’t become more stringent, BDA remains on track to deliver all the contracted Release 2 capability within the required timeframes.
“At the moment all these problems have solutions and we’re on time and we’re on budget,” he said.