G’day Mate: Australian Defence Force Deploys Integrated RF Communication System
Boeing announces completion of the final milestone for the MHFCS project. (July 8/10)
To provide Australian armed forces with an integrated communications system, the Australian Defence Force contracted with Boeing Defence Australia, a subsidiary of US-based Boeing, to deploy an integrated HF communications system throughout the country, replacing the separate HF communications systems operated by each service.
The A$628 million (US$547 million) system – called the Modernized High Frequency Communications System (MHFCS) – provides the ADF with a nation-wide secure command and control network for all of the armed forces. The project is divided into two phases [pdf] – the MHFCS core system and the final system. The core system was delivered in October 2004, and the final system was introduced into service on Sept 24/09. The Australia Minister of Defence Material and Science formally accept the final system from Boeing on May 13/10.
Fixed and Mobile
MHFCS is a managed, long-range strategic communications system that enables the secure exchange of information, such as voice, e-mail, facsimile, interactive data and organizational messages, between fixed and mobile stations using one integrated system.
MHFCS features automated priority messaging, an assured delivery system, extensive geographic coverage that includes 2,000 nautical miles offshore, and automated frequency-management and traditional-operator tasks.
The network consists of 4 geographically dispersed remotely operated pairs of transmitter and receiver stations that are interconnected by a Defence Wide Area Network and controlled by a Network Management Facility located in Canberra. The stations are located in the Riverina, North West Cape, Darwin and Townsville areas.
A major improvement to the MHFCS final version was enhancement of mobile platform capabilities, including automation and relay capability for mobile-to-mobile users via the fixed network. Mobile platforms that can use the MHFCS include Australia’s Black Hawk and CH-47D Chinook helicopters, as well as its mine hunter coastal ships, Armidale-class patrol boats, Collins-class submarines, Air Warfare destroyers, and the AP-3C Orion.
Contracts and Key Events
July 8/10: Boeing announces that the final milestone for MHFCS project – a formal letter of completion from the High Frequency Modernisation Project Authority to the government of Australia – was delivered on June 16. Boeing said it is currently marketing the MHFCS internationally and is in discussions with several potential customers.
May 12/10: The Australian Minister of Defence Material and Science formally accepts the MHFCS final version into service from Boeing Defence Australia. The minister explained that the final system includes a number of improvements over the core system, which was accepted into service in 2004, including increased levels of automation.
Feb 4/10: Boeing Defence Australia announces that its MHFCS has reached 130 days in service with the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Oct 15/09: Boeing Defence Australia and Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) announce a memorandum of agreement to jointly market Boeing’s MHFCS internationally. RFS is supplying the specialized high-gain antenna systems for the MHFCS.
Oct 25/04: The MHFCS Core system is formally accepted by the ADF from the contractor Boeing Defence Australia.
Dec 31/97: The A$628 million (US$547 million) contract for the implementation of the MHFCS is awarded to Boeing Australia Ltd.