The Australian government has given Defence the green light to hand the $900 million upgrade of battlefield communications technology relied on by troops to a consortium led by Boeing.
The project, known as LAND 2072 phase 2B, will see the contractor group replace the Parakeet communications system installed by BAE in the 1990s with digital wideband voice, data and video transmitted over modern telecommunications infrastructure.
The new network will be used by deployed Australian ground troops.
Boeing will be joined by Newcastle engineering firm GH Varley and digital radio supplier Harris. The project will also use deployable computer networks delivered by Defence specialist Thales.
The Boeing group nudged out Raytheon, which pitched to install the WIN-T network solution used by the US Army, and BAE systems, which pulled out of its bid for the work in December 2012 after it discovered two employees had breached probity rules governing the tender.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said in a statement the access to and exchange of "large amounts of multimedia data is becoming increasingly important for the effective conduct of operations".
“With this equipment, the Australian Defence Force’s capability to use modern information technology to link sensors, weapon systems, commanders and personnel in a networked environment will be greatly enhanced.”
Defence expects the upgrade will create as many as 250 jobs in the Australian defence supplier sector between now and when the new system is completely finished in 2020. It is anticipated the first troops will be able to start accessing elements of the new capability form 2017.