Lockheed Martin has been selected to deliver Australia’s first sovereign military communications satellite and multiple ground stations as part of the JP9102 program.
The agreement for 4 billion Australian dollars ($2.7 billion) is the largest space contract ever awarded by the Australian government.
In addition to the geostationary satellite, the American defense giant will provide an integrated satellite communications management system and two new operations centers to Canberra.
It will also conduct collaborative tender clarification and improvement activities.
“Currently across defense, there are up to 89 capabilities which depend on satellite communications,” Australia’s Air Defence and Space Systems Division head David Scheul said.
The satellite is expected to increase the resilience, agility, and flexibility of the country’s space force.
It will provide coverage from the central Indian Ocean to the Solomon Islands from 2027.
An ‘Unusual Move’
In addition to Lockheed Martin, Australia received tenders from Airbus, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and a team from Raytheon Technologies and Thales.
The government initially planned to select two companies to proceed to the next phase of the JP9102 program.
However, the Australian defense department announced that Lockheed had been directly awarded the contract in what was considered an “unusual move.”
The company’s proposal reportedly drew on its experience providing four satellite communications systems to the US Space Force.
“We are proud to be selected as the preferred bidder to deliver this critical capability to the Australian Defence Force,” Lockheed Martin official Warren McDonald said.
“This capability will provide the Australian Defence Force with robust connectivity and reliable information when and where they need it, and by extension, contribute further to the growth and development of Australia’s defense and space industries.”