After a protracted development and build program, the ADF’s satellite ground station – west at Geraldton in Western Australia has been declared fully operational.
Awarded to BAE Systems Australia under Project JP 2008 Phase 3F in late 2009, the ground station provides a ground link to the Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) systems for the ADF and allies. This phase of the extensive JP 2008 program also included two military hosted payloads on the Optus C-1 commercial satellites, and ground infrastructure at HMAS Harman near Canberra.
The project was previously declared a project of concern in 2014 after reported scope creep, a lack of understanding of requirements, and payment pauses and liquidated damaged were initiated. But the program got back on track after mediation, and the ground station declared an initial operational capability in 2018.
“The Defence Satellite Communications Program is providing the Australian Defence Force with a suite of strategic and tactical satellite communication capabilities,” Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds said in a statement. “Satellite Ground Station – West will provide Defence with greater access to the overall capacity available from Wideband Global Satellite-Communications satellites. This offers real-time operational and logistical information which is essential for command and control of deployed forces.”
An accompanying satellite ground station – east is being built at Kapooka near Wagga Wagga by Northrop Grumman, ViaSat, and Optus under Phase 5B2, and is scheduled to be operational in 2022.