Australian defense introduces upgraded communication system

20:19, May 12, 2010      

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A controversial defense communications upgrade program which ran five years late has now been declared operational, Australian Junior defense minister Greg Combet said on Wednesday.

Combet said the 637 million dollars (570.8 million U.S. dollars) High Frequency Modernization program, known as HFMOD, had now been formally accepted from prime contractor Boeing.

Combet said HFMOD had been one of his projects of concern after it suffered technical problems and delays.

"While there have been challenges in getting to this point, I am pleased to see that the Commonwealth and Boeing have been able to work together to resolve these and achieve this important milestone," Combet said in a statement.

HFMOD was the 21st century successor to the communications system developed early last century to communicate over long distances using mores code.

The modernization process had started in the 1990s to combine three single-service systems, some with elements dating back to the 1960s, into a single national network capable of handling secure voice, data and facsimile communications.

It allowed reliable communications with distant ships, aircraft and ground units and operates as a backup to the satellite communications system. Unlike satellite communications, HFMOD remains wholly Australian-controlled and is regarded as more survivable in the event of conflict.

Combet said the initial capability introduced by the high frequency modernization project has been supporting Australian Defense Force operations since November 2004.

However, delays in development of the enhanced capability were experienced in 2007 and the project schedule was redefined last year.



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