MELBOURNE, Australia — In a surprise move, the Australian government informed bidders during last week’s Land Warfare Conference here that the current phase of its ambitious Battlespace Comms project would be delayed for about a year.
Joint Project (JP) 2072 Phase 2B is the latest component of the Battlespace Communications – Land project, which has been referred to as the “digital backbone” of the network-enabled future Australian Defence Force (ADF). It will improve the ADF’s command and control services to headquarters, and is valued at between 500 million and 1 billion Australian dollars ($520.1 billion to $1.04 billion).
The four bidding teams are BAE Systems Australia and Thales Australia; Raytheon Australian and General Dynamics C4 Systems; Lockheed Martin Australia and Elbit Systems; and Boeing Defence Australia.
The teams had previously responded to a request for tender and were expecting an imminent decision but were called to a meeting with project officials during the Land Warfare conference and told that a new request for tender would be issued.
It is understood that all four bids were higher than expected by the Defence Department.
“Defence is currently conducting tender evaluation. The tender evaluation phase is a critical component of any procurement process, and it can take time to do it properly. Tenderers have been advised that this process is ongoing, and they will be advised of the outcome,” said a Defence Department spokesperson. “At the completion of the tender evaluation process, a short list of tenderers will be engaged in the offer definition activity.”
The spokesperson denied reports that a “re-scoping” of the project would now be undertaken, saying, “The scope of the project as approved by government at first pass remains extant.”
The current Defence Capability Plan calls for a decision between fiscal 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, with an initial operating capability about three years later.
Given the sensitivity of the issue, industry leaders were unable to comment. However, a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin Australia said, “The company’s bid team remains in place and is ready to actively respond to the commonwealth’s requirements.”