Lockheed Martin has been awarded the contract to build Australia’s first sovereign military satellites. The company was announced as the preferred tenderer for Joint Project 9102, which will provide the Australian Defence Force with a satellite communications system for the Indo-Pacific region. The multi-billion dollar project will include the following:
- New communication satellites.
- Multiple ground stations across Australia.
- A communications management system.
- Two new operations centres.
The system will increase the resilience, agility, and flexibility of the defence’s military satellite capability. Satellite communications have become increasingly crucial for defence capabilities, with the data superhighway becoming a potential theatre of war for advanced economies.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s bid for the contract included a pledge to involve local businesses in the project. Several local companies have already been lined up to participate, including Inovor Technologies, EM Solutions, AV-Comm, Linfox, and Shoal Group. Other companies, such as Ronson Gears, Calytrix Technologies, Conscia, Clearbox Systems, DXC, and Blacktree Technology, are also on the list.
The project will cost AUD 3 to 4 billion and deliver Australia’s first sovereign-controlled satellite communication system. Lockheed Martin Australia has announced plans to set up a space engineering and technical hub in Victoria to support the project, creating over 200 high-tech jobs in the state. The company has already launched a space-focused program with the STEM Punks education group to inspire Australia’s future workforce.
Defence has said it is looking forward to working with Lockheed Martin Australia to deliver the project, and the company will now move on to the next stage of the procurement process to fine-tune the tender details.
The decision to award the contract to Lockheed Martin over Airbus comes as both companies have invested heavily in space capabilities. The race for space contracts has intensified recently as countries worldwide develop space programs, including military space capabilities.