Lockheed Martin has been chosen as Australia’s preferred bidder for the multi-billion dollar project JP9102, which involves delivering the Commonwealth’s defence satellite communication system.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) head of Air Defence and Space Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal David Scheul, says that this sovereign military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) system will be defined by its extensibility, agility and resilience.

Project JP9102 will deliver Australia’s first sovereign-controlled satellite communication system over the Indo-Pacific region.

MILSATCOM communication benefits

“Currently across defence there is up to 89 capabilities which depend on satellite communications,” Scheul said. “Once delivered, the new system will increase the resilience, agility and flexibility of defence’s military satellite capability.”

The new satellite communication system will include: new defence controlled and operated geo-stationary communications satellites, multiple ground stations across Australia, integrated Satellite Communications Management System, and two new satellite communications operations centres.

Geopolitical competition

According to the GlobalData report Tech, Media and Telecom Predictions 2023 that as geopolitical tensions rise, there will be a reversion to Cold War tactics. Governments will use space to express national interests and assert geopolitical dominance.

This will drive investment in space infrastructure, leading to an escalation in the militarisation of space, with US military satellite market revenues increasing by 41% from 2021 to 2031, according to GlobalData forecasts.

MILSATCOM is designed specifically to operate across the Indo-Pacific region, with the ADF system allowing it to constantly coordinate regional command and control. This will prove to be a highly coveted military asset considering the expressed militarism and territorial encroachment of the People’s Republic of China in the region. With a key aspect of MILSATCOM being its extensibility, the ADF’s outreach will enable it and its allies, including the US, to operate in the region with an acute competitive advantage.

Lockeed Martin acknowledge that: “For the ADF, satellite communications are a vital capability, especially as it transforms into a force centred around advanced platforms with high bandwidth requirements utilised to support networked operations at greater distances.”