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Australian Defence readies for IT overhaul

The Australian Department of Defence (ADF) has signed a three-year contract with a Japanese multinational information technology equipment and services company to modernise the department’s network infrastructure and end-user computing that is used to support field operations and exercises for the Australian Defence Force.

Under the AU$175 million programme, the IT firm will work in partnership with Defence’s partners to provide services including service desk functions, end-user and workstation support, VoIP and email communications, collaboration tools, network infrastructure, and network services management across all Defence operations.

Other deliverables under the contract, according to the tech firm, include continuous in-service deployed IT environments that “are an essential part of Defence’s operational capability” and developing “centrally-governed security and accreditation and enterprise governance”.

Helping Defence’s IT workforce build their skillset is also on the to-do list for the company whose ANZ CEO stated that they are pleased to continue its longstanding relationship with the Department of Defence and to be working collaboratively with Defence’s industry partners. Together, the parties will deliver a comprehensive solution that will provide exceptional support to critical Defence operations. Through this strategic partnership with Defence, the firm looks forward to provisioning surge capacity and enhancing skills with their ADF colleagues.

This latest contract builds on the tech firm’s existing relationship with Defence. In the past, the tech conglomerate has been charged with delivering national deskside support services, including warehousing and asset management, project services, and audiovisual services; and the department’s distributed computing centralised services.

In August 2020, the ADF Australia’s Department of Defence awarded a Canberra-based firm a two-year, AU$20 million contract to provide the agency with portable, containerised data systems that can be deployed by sea, air, or road. Under the contract, the tech firm will build four scaleable data centres that can house a range of Defence’s IT equipment and other potential technologies and platforms.

The Minister for Defence stated, “Our Defence force needs to be agile and responsive to the evolving threats we face. This investment recognises the need to have assets that can be deployed and re-deployed to meet operational needs, without unnecessary delays caused by constructing facilities with a long lead time.”

The contract builds on an existing relationship that the tech firm already has with Defence. The company has previously supplied other data centre facilities to the agencies. The AU$20 million contract is part of the federal government’s wider AU$1 billion investment package which has been touted would boost the country’s defence industry.

Other initiatives that are expected to come from the AU$1 billion hand-out includes increased funding towards Defence’s innovation, industry grants, skilling and micro-credentialing, and cyber training.

The nation’s Prime Minister has labelled the package as a way to help small and medium-sized business as part of the defence industry supply chain.

Earlier in August 2020, Defence announced it was looking to expand the capabilities of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with maritime unmanned aircraft systems (MUAS) that would be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISR&T).

As part of a call for expressions of interest, Defence outlined how the RAN currently relies heavily on the sensors of its ships and helicopters, both of which are limited by range and endurance and could potentially expose the RAN to more threats.

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