Australia Spending A$ 100M on New Naval Networking
The Australian Defence Force’s ability to successfully conduct maritime operations is highly dependent on the exchange of operational information between ships, aircraft and land units. To make that goal more of a reality, the Australian government recently announced a pair of initiatives that will spend A$ 100 million to modernize communications aboard a number of its vessels. Technical priorities will include transitioning to packet-based switching (IP) networks, wide-area networking, and improved satellite communications.
The government notes that this move is a significant step in its modernization plan towards Network-Centric Warfare (NCW) capability. These projects will allow deployed ships to establish computer-based wide area networks at sea via broadband satellite communication et. al., allowing Navy to rapidly move information around its ships, share tactical information, communicate with headquarters and allies, and improve quality of life provisions for sailors by improving their email and internet access capabilities so they can stay in touch with loved ones.
So, what are the projects, what’s going on, what kind of follow-up buys are expected, and which vessels are affected?
Australia’s Department of Defence announced that ADI Limited has been selected as the preferred tender for Phase 3 of Project SEA 1442. The $45 million project, approved by Government in May 2004, will modernize the Australian Navy’s on-board communication and information systems in ways that will enhance the value of existing projects and enable subsequent efforts. Packet-based switching, radio modernization, cryptography, wide area network improvements, et. al. The Australian DMO’s SEA 1442 project page has an excellent set of details, including the potential for a Phase 4 worth up to A$ 200-300 million.
The new systems will be installed on all eight of Australia’s newest FFH-150 ANZAC Class frigates, four of Australia’s six Adelaide Class (FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class) guided missile frigates, the LPA amphibious transports HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora; and the multi-role replenishment ship HMAS Success (see Haze Gray’s Australian Navy page).
The government cited ADI’s relationship to its co-parent Thales’ significant knowledge and experience in the latest European and US communication systems development, particularly with a similar system being implemented for the French Navy, as a key reason behind the award.
As another facet of these efforts, the Australian government also approved the $55 million acquisition of further broadband Satellite Communication (SATCOM) terminals, in addition to those currently being fitted under Program JP2008 Phase 3E. This upgrade will cover the remaining five ANZAC Class frigates and an additional Adelaide Class frigate. The additional SATCOM terminals will be negotiated with BAE SYSTEMS Australia Ltd under an extension to the existing JP2008 Phase 3E contract, and the Ministry affirms that these contracts will also provide opportunities for a number of Australian Small to Medium Enterprises.
Additional JP 2008 SATCOM terminals combined with the SEA 1442 integrated communications architecture will significantly increase the ability of the Royal Australian Navy to successfully collect, organize, store, process and distribute information. In time, the Maritime Tactical Wide Area Network (MTWAN) that SEA 1442 and JP2008 enable will be installed on 15 Major Ships including the ANZAC and Guided Missile Frigates, plus a Shore Gateway, Network Operations Center, and Training Facility.
Funding for these projects has been provided as part of the Australian government’s commitment to increase spending of $28.5 billion on defense capability over the 10-year period to 2010, and builds on the 2000 White Paper to increase Defence funding by three per cent annually, in real terms, until 2010-2011.