The effort to develop a sovereign satellite communications capability for the Australian Defence Force has hit a key milestone, with the deadline for tender submissions for the Project JP9102 SATCOM requirement passing on January 10.
Boeing says its bid will be based on its 702X bus upon which its USAF wideband global SATCOM constellation is based. It says its JP9102 solution builds on the capability it developed for its latest WGS satellites which will provide greater levels of connectivity and resilience than the early WGS birds.
Australia bought into the WGS program in 2007 by funding WGS 6, which was subsequently launched in 2013, thus it giving it access to the capability offered by the initial Block I and Block II WGS constellations.
“Using the WGS-11+ design gives Australia a low-risk, proven next-generation satellite product which will meet Defence’s rapid delivery schedule,” Space and Launch business director at Boeing Defence Australia, Matt Buckle said in a company release. “When coupled with UHF payloads currently provided by Boeing to the US and Australian governments, and a locally-developed mission systems architecture, it puts us in a unique position to deliver an interoperable solution which maximises reuse of JP2008 infrastructure while providing a resilient and flexible SATCOM capability for the future.”
For JP9102, Boeing has teamed with Saber Astronautics, Clearbox Systems, Leidos, ViaSat, Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium (IDIC), and Titomic, and says this includes a substantial investment in Australian industry capabilities.
Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) also confirmed it had submitted a bid on January 11, and also announced its team had grown. LMA says its bid will provide an agile solution that will contribute to the ongoing growth of the nation’s sovereign space capabilities.
“From the beginning of this campaign, Lockheed Martin maximised Australia’s in-country space capabilities for JP9102,” Lockheed Martin Australia regional director for space, David Ball said. “The space industry here brings a vast, diverse network of capabilities, and we’re already seeing two-way transfers of skills, know-how and technology. Spearheaded by Lockheed Martin’s unparalleled heritage in resilient MILSATCOM, our JP9102 team stands united and ready to deliver.”
LMA added logistics company Linfox to its team saying it will provide support through warehouse provisioning and distribution operations. Linfox joins DXC, Conscia, Av-Comm, Calytrix Technologies, EM Solutions, Shoal Group, Clearbox Systems, STEM Punks, and Ronson Gears on the team.
Other bids are believed to have been received from a teaming of Optus, Raytheon Australia, and Thales Australia, and from a teaming of Northrop Grumman, Inmarsat, and L3Harris. A decision on the successful tender or a progression to a shortlist of two teams is due by the end of 2022.