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Mitsubishi partners on Australian satcom programme

Australian telecommunications company Optus has announced that it is partnering with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Melco) in bidding to supply defence satellite communications (satcom) capability to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Optus said in a media release on 3 February that the Japanese firm will join its 'AUSSAT' industry team, which also includes the Australian subsidiaries of Raytheon and Thales, in bidding for the programme under Joint Project (JP) 9102.

Optus said Melco's position in the team is supported through its experience of supplying customers with more than 70 satellites, and equipment for more than 500 spacecraft. The two companies have previously partnered on Australian satcom projects.

Melco Australia's managing director Jeremy Needham said the partnership presents an opportunity to extend Australia-Japan defence co-operation and advance local industry capabilities.

JP9102, also known as the Australian Defence Satcom System (ADSS), aims at building a sovereign Australian satcom system for both military and civil requirements. According to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), the project is worth up to AUD3 billion (USD2.14 billion).

Australia relies heavily upon the US military's Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) system for real-time operational and logistical information as well as data from Japan and the European Space Agency's satellites.

JP9102 seeks to provide geostationary communication satellites covering the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as Australia itself. The DoD has said that the project is intended to enable the command of forces through “resilient and responsive communications beyond the range and capacity of other communication systems”.

A request for tender (RFT) to support JP9102 was released by the DoD in April 2021. Besides Team AUSSAT, other bidders for JP9102 include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Airbus.

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