On the eve of the Land Forces exhibition, Boeing Defence Australia revealed that it is in final stages of development of the third and last iteration of capability for its Integrated Battlefield Telecommunications Network, being supplied to Army under Project Currawong (Joint Project 2072 Phase 2B). With this final contracted capability, known as Release 3, to be rolled out from next year, BDA is now turning its attention to other opportunities to market the system at home and abroad.
Release 3 will add ‘red’ (Protected, Secret and Coalition Secret) networking to the ‘black’ (unclassified) capability now in service and deliver a Headquarters on the Move capability, fitted into Army’s G-Wagon, Hawkei and Bushmaster fleets. Release 3 is now in the Test Readiness Review (TRR) phase and System Material Release (SMR) is expected to occur next year.
The scalable, distributable Currawong system has been developed in-house by BDA and the intellectual property is owned by the Commonwealth, therefore avoiding ITAR issues should it be successful in the export market. Earlier releases of equipment are in service with deployed Army units and the Royal Australian Air Force’s Combat Communications Squadron.
BDA’s business development manager Darcy Rawlinson revealed government approval has been granted to market the IBTN concept defined by Currawong to ‘Five Eyes’ nations, with the UK seen as a near-term potential customer.
“The UK is looking at the (battlefield telecommunications) problem at the moment under its Trinity program and they have a very similar requirement to the Australian Army,” Rawlinson said.
“They are looking for a wide area network to connect their headquarters and they also have additional responsibility to provide communications for large NATO headquarters. We have a scalable solution for that.”
Boeing Defence UK will likely develop a solution, based on the Currawong system and tailored to the UK’s sovereign requirements, but BDA will perform a significant amount of the development and support work.
“It will be a great opportunity for us and our existing supply chain, because there will be more hardware built here in Australia,” Rawlinson said.
He added a further near-term opportunity is Navy’s Sea 1442 Phase 5 (Maritime Tactical Wide Area Network) program, and he expects Defence will approach the market later this year for information on available systems. He said a maritime IBTN based on Currawong will not only meet Navy’s requirements, but also realise synergies across the ADF, including the conduct of future amphibious operations and systems training.
“Navy is looking for broadband connectivity across its major surface ships and they are seeking a capability able to evolve to meet future threats and requirements,” Rawlinson said. “It makes sense for the ADF to share information across all three forces.”