A $665 million contract has been signed by Boeing Defence Australia and the Department of Defence for the upgrade of the Battlespace Communications System (BCS) (Land).
The BCS will provide the wide-band communications backbone and local area networks to operational headquarters for Australian Defence Force (ADF) Land elements. It will also extend the communications range of the Tactical Communications Network (TCN) – a unit level mobile communications network – according to the original Request for Tender (RFT) documents.
The solution upgrade is a next generation radio and battlespace communications capability which passed second pass approval earlier this year.
At that time Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said the “project will enable Army and elements of the Air Force and Navy to replace ageing mobile communications and computer networks.”
“It will provide commanders with an increased level of situation awareness, command and control, and information sharing capability.”
Boeing in a partnership with GH Varley and Harris Communications Australia – which recently won a $77 million support contract for the ADF’s land-based radios – was seen as the preferred solution.
The contract falls under the scope of Joint Project (JP) LAND 2072 Phase 2B which aims to enhance Command and Control on land using wide-band digital radio capable of carrying voice, data and video communications on wireless and wired sets.
Total acquisition costs for JP 2072 2B are expected to be in the order of $900 million.
The contract with Defence will be managed from Boeing’s Brisbane facility and is expected to create around 250 new jobs in the Australian defence industry sector, according to a ministerial media release.
Defence has already rolled out Phase 1 and Phase 2A of the JP 2072 Project.
In Phase 1 Harris Corporation and Raytheon Australia delivered “communications systems for integration into the Battle Group and Below Command, Control and Communications [level]”, according to the 2013-14 Major Projects Report. As Original Equipment Manufacturers both Harris and Raytheon were then engaged in a three-year ‘interim support’ contract to provide maintenance, training and support services.
In Phase 2A Harris continued the rollout of digital combat radios selected in Phase 1, primarily to dismounted, on-foot forces. Phase 2A had an expected cost of $460 million. The work in Phase 2A was bundled in several contracts under the same title Acquisition of Combat Net Radios and (associated) Ancillaries. The largest of these contracts was signed in January 2014 and worth $114 million, another nine were accumulatively worth $97 million.
Harris’s $77 million contract win in July this year is for the provision of support services – i.e. repairs and radio sustainment – to the more than 15,000 radios that were procured under JP 2072 and that replaced ageing systems including the Wagtail, Pintail and Raven radios.
Boeing has a significant contract history with Defence. Last financial year Boeing won a $20 million contract to provide ICT Maintenance services to Defence over five years to 2019. In total Boeing’s 54 contracts with Defence and the DMO add to $195 million since 2014-15, according to Analyse IT.
Digitised multi-mode, multi-band and multi-role radios have received international interest with procurement programs in the U.S. and Europe.