The selection of Thales Australia as the designated tenderer for the delivery of the OneSky air traffic management system has been welcomed by Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews as evidence of the vitality of the Australian defence industry.
Thales is entering into an ‘advanced work’ contracting arrangement with Airservices Australia and Defence, bringing Australia’s combined civil and military air traffic control initiative an important step closer to fruition.
“From time to time there are pessimistic pronouncements about the future of defence industry in Australia,” Minister Andrews said when the announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss at the Avalon Airshow on Friday.
“To come to this airshow and see what’s on display and what’s on offer, and to see what’s been achieved in this announcement and the rollout of that over the coming years, shows a great deal of vitality in the defence industry in Australia and a very bright future,” MINDEF added.
Introducing the OneSky system will cost in the order of $600 million. Initial operating capability is on schedule to be achieved in 2018, with full rollout across the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Airservices by 2021, according to Airservices chief executive officer Margaret Staib
At the announcement, Staib congratulated Thales Australia chief executive officer Chris Jenkins, saying: “It was no easy ride; we had a very successful competitive bid, so it was right down to the wire. But it’s a testimony to the professionalism and the bid that Thales has put forward that they’re here today.”
Some work under OneSky is being brought forward, with the voice switching system expected to be delivered in 2017.
“Because of the complexity of this endeavour, we needed to be in a contractual arrangement so that for example we can bring forward the early voice [system] work but also actually commission the detailed design work,” Staib said. “That’s the sort of things that will be covered by this advanced work standing arrangement.”