by Anthony Weaver

ADF-Inmarsat Australia sign AUS$221m contract extension to 2027

New virtual satellite operations centre enables ADF to control satellite use and monitoring directly

CANBERRA, ACT, AUSTRALIA, 30 March 2021 (00.01 AEST): The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, announce that they have agreed to a AUS$221 million contract extension for the provision of commercial satellite communications airtime services and managed hardware.

Brigadier Gregory Novak, Commander Defence Strategic Communications Branch and Mr Todd McDonell, President Inmarsat Global Government, participated in a ceremony commemorating the ongoing relationship between the Commonwealth of Australia and Inmarsat Australia in the provision of global satellite services. These services enable a wide range of command, control, and situational awareness communications for the Australian Defence Force, the wider Department of Defence, and its Australian Government partners worldwide.

The commemorative event also recognised the announcement of the contract extension between the two parties, the result of a successful Defence and industry partnership between the two organisations that has constantly evolved over the years in support of Defence’s changing satellite communications requirements. The arrangements of this contract extension will run through to 2027.

Speaking at the event, Brigadier Novak commented: “Inmarsat has supported ADF satellite communications requirements at home and overseas for over 30 years. This partnership has increased our capability to support wide-ranging ADF operations and provide greatly improved quality of life services for our deployed people.”

The overall commitment of the contract for satellite services is now AUS$331m over the 10-year term, including options for three extensions of two years each, helping to bridge the forthcoming transformation in the way the Australian Defence Force acquires and uses satellite technologies.

This contract between Defence and Inmarsat has now evolved to a full Inmarsat Managed Service, which includes:

  • Access to the Operational Monitoring and Control System (OMCS), which allows Defence to act as a virtual satellite operator, independently assigning bandwidth amongst the fleet and monitoring bandwidth in real time.
  • Crew Quality of Life system which provides bandwidth for Crew Welfare services and has led to a 70% reduction in operating costs onboard the ships with the solution, coupled with an increase in efficiency and crew morale.
  • Hardware.
  • Software.
  • 24/7 service and support.
  • Training.
  • Leasing services.
  • Operational and Safety data.
  • Defence Restricted Network Access.

Todd McDonell said: “Inmarsat has supported the ADF for more than 30 years, both at the operational level and, more recently, where our Global Xpress service has delivered increased capability to meet the Australian Defence Force commitment to quality of life services.

“The Australian Defence Force is known the world over for its capability, reliability and the ability to get the job done regardless of the challenges encountered. Inmarsat has always been and continues to be committed to the same high quality standards to which the ADF holds itself. Inmarsat’s services supporting the ADF across the Army, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force can be relied on at any latitude, longitude and altitude.”

Initially signed in 2017, the partnership between the ADF and Inmarsat has now evolved to encompass a full Inmarsat Managed Service supporting the ADF’s capability requirements. This Managed Service takes the form of hardware, software, support, training and leasing services. Further enhancements are also being delivered through the development of a management software package, known as the Operational Monitoring and Control System (OMCS) that has been developed in line with defence requirements over the past 3 years.

With its successful implementation, OMCS is now entering the sustainment and enhancement term of the contract through to 2027. This system serves as a sovereign virtual satellite operations centre, allowing the ADF to independently allocate resources, track usage and implement operational changes in real time through the bespoke OMCS dashboard. This enables the ADF to control its satellite service use directly, without the requirement to work changes or issues through Inmarsat, which maximises operational outcomes as well as cost efficiencies.

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