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Northrop Grumman receives Australian satellite contract

By
Stephen Carlson
Delta IV launch vehicle for the WGS9 satellite. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.
Delta IV launch vehicle for the WGS9 satellite. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

July 11 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman has received a $170 million contract from the Australian Defense Force for a ground station for it's military satellite communications program, the company announced on Monday.

The contract provides for the next phase of the Joint Project 2008 program to establish integrated wideband satellite communications across the Australian miltary.

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Northrop Grumman will team with ViaSat and Optus to establish a ground countrol station and network management system in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

Austrailia has been a moember of the Wideband Global SATCOM program since 2007. The new ground control station and network will allow integration with the WGS network of communications satellites.

The system will be very similar to what the US. miltary uses for its own satellites, allowing interoperability between the two countries SATCOM networks.

"Our team of Northrop Grumman, ViaSat and Optus will provide the ADF a comprehensive, mature, proven solution for taking full advantage of Australia's investment in the WGS global communications system with expandability to meet future needs," Ian Irving, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Australia, said in a press release.

WGS is currently used by Australia, the U.S. Canada, New Zealand and other countries for military satellite communications. WGS provides greater bandwith and lower operating costs then legacy systems like the Defense Satellite Commnications System in use since the 1970s.

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The United States also uses it for secured White House Communications Agency and State Department messages, and shares the capabilities of the system with international partners and special users.

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