Tech firms on high alert as NZ Cabinet prepares for multi-million dollar Defence decision

The New Zealand cabinet will make a decision this year on a major communications capability refresh to meet Defence requirements for the next 15 years, expected to cost several hundred millions of dollars.

The New Zealand cabinet will make a decision this year on a major communications capability refresh to meet Defence requirements for the next 15 years, expected to cost several hundred millions of dollars.

Defence has issued a request for information and says that information received in response will be used to assist it in the development of a project business case detailing potential options for government approval.

The Strategic Bearer Network – Phase 2 is potentially a massive project, which sources tell Computerworld New Zealand could run into hundreds of millions of dollars - it appears to be linked to the Network Enabled Army project.

The size of the project and the technologies involved would be an attractive target for multi-nationals such as Lockheed Martin, Talus and Northrop Grumman with sources telling Computerworld that only one local company, Tait Communications would be in the running.

Defence currently operates a high frequency radio communications systems installed late in the 1980s, based around six geographically separated centres and consists of 49 transmitters and 77 receivers.

The system is managed by a common control network, allowing transmitters that are local or remote to be controlled from multiple centres - the RFI says the system is reaching the end of its economic life, the failure rate is increasing, and the availability of parts for their repair is decreasing.

The communications system is used to communicate with NZDF’s deployed forces - these forces may be deployed on land or in ships or aircraft, often deployed forces will use satellite-based communications.

The RFI says deployments may be south of 60° S, in areas where conventional satellite communications is difficult while the deployments could also be in other parts of the world and they might not be able to access satellite-based communications.

The preferred solution will provide for a portfolio of sufficient transmit and receive assets so that a designed service availability can be provided – this may provide geographical diversity for disaster recovery, and spatial diversity allowing continuity of service:

• Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) and management;

• a common control infrastructure; and

• compliance with the interoperability standards.

All networking involving control of transmit and receive network elements and transmission of traffic will occur using use Internet Protocols, this traffic would normally transit the NZDF Wide Area Network.

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