• Credit: Defence
    Credit: Defence

Updated Tuesday 11th July 2017 9:25am

The Commonwealth has announced a $223 million contract with Northrop Grumman Australia for the acquisition, construction and support of the second satellite ground station in the east of Australia in accordance with Project JP2008 Phase 5B2. 

The contract will also deliver an integrated wideband SATCOM network management system to improve robustness, capacity and efficiency of the ADF SATCOM capability.

Australia joined the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system program in 2007, providing funds to expand the constellation in return for a worldwide share of WGS bandwidth.

Joint Project 2008 is a large multiphase project to deploy an integrated wideband SATCOM system for the ADF. Northrop Grumman and its partners ViaSat and Optus will provide a network management capability aligned with and functionally similar to the one developed for the United States that successfully manages and monitors the WGS system. ViaSat will incorporate its dual-band satellite terminal with Optus providing its extensive Australian operating experience.

The Satellite Ground Station is planned to anchor three satellites simultaneously in X and Ka Band and will be built at Kapooka in NSW to avoid bandwidth clashes that would have occurred at Canberra’s naval communications station, HMAS Harman.

Operating out of Orlando, Florida, Northrop Grumman has been providing the US with satellite communications software tools for nearly 20 years that are critical in the activation and operations of the nine WGS satellites in orbit. The company’s Satellite Communications Operations and Planning Element (SCOPE) aligns with the US system and provides an integrated operations and network management software that models, plans, schedules and monitors satellite communications and ground station networks.

“Northrop Grumman’s SCOPE core capabilities are the foundation of this proven, operational system that manages and monitors satellite communications today,” chief executive Northrop Grumman Australia Ian Irving said. “That experience forms the ADF sovereign capability, providing benefits to Australia while reducing program risk.”

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said Australian company Hansen and Yuncken will start construction later this year, subject to Parliamentary Works Committee approval. 

“The Kapooka ground station will operate in conjunction with a satellite ground station in Western Australia to provide Defence with the level of wideband satellite communications, capacity and survivability needed in the future.”

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2021. ADM has reported extensively on JP2008. For a recent update check out Katherine Ziesing's article here as well as the latest ADM

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