AUSTRALIA will remain the world leader in over-the-horizon maritime defence systems following a $1.2 billion upgrade to its radar network, Defence Minister Marise Payne says.
The Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) monitors activity off the northwestern and northern coastlines of the continent.
The federal government’s spending will upgrade both the hardware and the system’s software and support sustainment over the next 10 years.
This will allow for an improved scan rate to boost radar coverage and detection capabilities which Ms Payne says are vital to keep JORN at the cutting edge.
“It will allow us to execute more surveillance tasks at once and see smaller targets,” she said on Monday.
“It will be able to more quickly and more accurately detect potential threats. What it will be capable of is game changing.”
BAE Systems Australia has been chosen to deliver the Phase 6 upgrade, which will support an extra 100 jobs within the company and another 100 in the supply chain.
About 500 people are currently employed across Australia to work on the network across the three radar sites at Longreach in Queensland, Alice Springs and Laverton in Western Australia.
JORN works by bouncing high-frequency electromagnetic waves off the ionosphere to “see” objects thousands of kilometres away and is invisible to conventional radar because of the curvature of the earth.
The defence force says the work will ensure JORN remains superior to other similar systems beyond 2040.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the upgraded system would be designed, developed and delivered in Australia, by Australians.
“BAE Systems will take Australian Defence Science and Technology research advancements from the lab to the operational environment,” he said.
Northern Territory Country Liberals Senator Nigel Scullion said the work would include a $30 million investment at the Alice Springs radar site.
“Our first priority is to make sure our forces have the capability they need,” he said.
“In achieving this we are determined to invest as much as possible in supporting and growing our own industry here in Australia.”