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Digital defence comms network to start firing

A consortium comprising US-based defence specialist General Dynamics, Australian Defence Industries and Tenix has won preferred tenderer status to provide the nation's armed forces with the first stage of a next-generation digital communications network.

A consortium comprising US-based defence specialist General Dynamics, Australian Defence Industries and Tenix has won preferred tenderer status to provide the nation's armed forces with the first stage of a next-generation digital communications network.

Announcing the win this afternoon, Defence Minister Robert Hill said the AU$97 million phase one of the project -- involving development of systems design and architecture for future procurement of communications equipment for Army and land-based Air Force elements -- had been approved.

"This project will deliver state of the art digital voice and data communication, including video and multimedia, as well as an upgrade plan to ensure that the Australian Defence Force's equipment remains at the forefront of technology," said Hill.

"Equipment will span the majority of field-deployable units in both the Army and the Air Force and is likely to range from small hand-held radios to larger vehicle-mounted communications equipment," he added.

The three-phase Battlespace Communications project is valued at AU$800 million over the next 10 years, with equipment being introduced into service from 2007/2008.

The minister highlighted General Dynamics' previous experience providing communications systems to Canadian and British forces as being useful to the ADF's implementation.

General Dynamics has also established a new Australian company to carry out the work, with management and engineering expertise being transferred from its Canadian division to assist with the deal. Employees from ADI and Tenix will be embedded into the General Dynamics team.

"ADI and Tenix involvement will increase in later stages of the project to include delivery of training and logistics support," said Senator Hill.