Americas Asia-Pacific EMEA




Northrop Grumman wins $223M contract for Australian defence ground facility

Northrop Grumman Australia has won a $223 million contract for the acquisition, construction and support of a new satellite ground station for the Australian Defence Force. The facility will be located at the Kapooka army base just outside of Wagga Wagga, NSW. The contract was announced by minister for defence industry Christopher Pyne, who said it would provide a communications boost to deployed forces as well as economic benefits to the Riverina region of NSW.

Australian company Hansen and Yuncken is expected to start construction later this year, subject to Parliamentary Works Committee approval. Once constructed, the facility will also be serviced by a small number of maintenance personnel and operated remotely.

The new ground station comes under Defence project JP2008 Phase 5B2 and will work with the Wideband Global SATCOM system, a US Defense constellation in which Australia has a stake. The satellite ground station will enable deployed forces across the Pacific and Indian Ocean Region to connect to Defence’s strategic information networks back in Australia.

The ADF, through contractor BAE Systems, has also been constructing another WGS ground station in Western Australia. However, that facility has been the subject of a number of delays and was at one time on Defence's “projects of concern” list.

Air Vice Marshall Andrew Dowse, head of ICT operations for the ADF’s Chief Information Officer Group, recently told a US military conference that the delays were already causing constraints in its capacity to service operations. And he warned that some technology such as terminals could be obsolete by the time the Western Australian facility is completed.

Meanwhile, the proposed ground station in NSW will also assist with a range of operations in the region, including border protection, humanitarian and disaster relief missions. Pyne noted that a new network management system to be deployed as part of the project would enable reduced operational response times for establishing and restoring satellite communications services.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2021. Geoff Long, Commsday