TAMPA, Fla. — The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has extended a contract to use British operator Inmarsat’s satellites to 2027, expanding the agreement to cover managed services.

The contract extension, worth 221 million Australian dollars ($168 million), comes a month after the U.K. and Australia agreed to increase knowledge exchange and investment across their space sectors.

Brigadier Gregory Novak, commander of the ADF’s Defence Strategic Communications Branch, said: “Inmarsat has supported ADF satellite communications requirements at home and overseas for over 30 years. 

“This partnership has increased our capability to support wide-ranging ADF operations and provide greatly improved quality of life services for our deployed people.”

Initially signed in 2017, the 10-year contract is now worth a total 331 million Australian dollars. 

Inmarsat said the arrangement has evolved to include the company’s full suite of managed services.

These include access to its Operational Monitoring and Control System (OMCS), enabling ADF to virtually track and assign bandwidth across the fleet in real-time.

The deal comes after the U.K. and Australia signed a ‘Space Bridge’ partnership Feb. 23 to improve access to trade, investment and academic research opportunities.

U.K. Science Minister Amanda Solloway described the “world’s first” Space Bridge partnership as another step toward the country’s aim to become “a globally-competitive space power.”

The space industry is one of the U.K.’s fastest-growing sectors. The U.K. expects the sector will create 30,000 new jobs in the country by 2030.

Space is also a significant growth area for Australia, which expects to create 20,000 new jobs in the sector in the same time frame.

The U.K. started negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Australia in July 2020, after officially leaving the European Union earlier that year.

A fourth round of FTA negotiations ended March 5, and a fifth is expected to begin shortly between the two countries.


Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...