BAE Systems wins $1.2 billion over-the-horizon radar update

The JORN network has two operational radar sites located at Longreach in Queensland and Laverton in central WA.

BAE Systems Australia has been awarded a $1.2 billion contract to upgrade and support Australia’s world-leading over the horizon (OTHR) system.

The 10-year Project AIR 2025 Phase 6 contract to upgrade the Jindalee Operational Radar Network – or JORN – was announced today by Defence Minister, Senator Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne at the JORN Coordination Centre at RAAF Edinburgh, north of Adelaide.

JORN is an over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) which bounces radar waves off the ionosphere, allowing the network to see aircraft and vessels 3,000km or more to the north of Australia, and the upgrade project will see key elements of the revolutionary system redesigned including the incorporation of an open architecture backbone and new technology insertions.

The network has two operational radar sites located at Longreach in Queensland and Laverton in central WA, while a research site is located near Alice Springs. All three sites are controlled from the JORN Coordination Centre at Edinburgh.

“The upgraded JORN system will be 100 per cent 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,” Minister Pyne stated.

BAE Systems has partnered with Raytheon Australia, Daronmont Technologies and RCR Tomlinson to deliver the upgrades and to maintain the capability. BAE Systems will also leverage work it has done for the US Government’s fourth-generation multi-channel digital HF network for the JORN Phase 6 upgrade.

“The JORN radar system is testament to the ingenuity, dedication and collaboration of Air Force operators, Australian scientists and Australian industry over more than 50 years,” Minister Payne said.

“It represents world leading technology that is unmatched by any other country.”

Defence released a request for tender to BAE Systems Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia in April 2016 for the Phase 6 upgrade, and the announcement of the winning tender had initially been anticipated as early as last year’s Avalon Airshow, but was delayed to “late 2017 or early 2018”.

VIDEO – This 2016 BAE Systems Australia video explains how JORN works.


  1. SeeSure says

    The way the radar works, you basically have to know where something is to track it. Oh well another billion flushed down the toilet, BAE will be happy.

  2. Dunover says

    Good question Paul. Surely they would store all radar events on a database reasonably long enough for a later review? There’s definitely something fishy going on besides.

  3. Bill says

    You have to be “aiming” the radar at a location to be able to see what’s there. It doesn’t sweep like a typical radar system does.

  4. Old Mate says

    $1.2 Billion for an upgrade?? Forget over the horizon, it would want to be able to see into the future once they’re done!

  5. says

    I understand that you have to be pointing it in a certain spot and I know it’s not a sweeper, but with sites in WA , NT, and I think QLD plus with all the other installations in NT and WA just saying. Old Mate, yeah that’s funny , for that money you would expect to see well well into the future!

  6. Al says

    Regarding all the MH370 comments… the minute you utilise the information gathered by JORN publicly, you’re announcing to the world what your capabilities are. You’re hardly going to announce to potential adversaries what your capabilities are with such a key piece of defence infrastructure just to help find the remains of an aircraft that obviously went down with no survivors and belongs to another country. The Brits broke lots of German enigma codes in WWII but most of the time they didn’t release the information even to their own military.

  7. Raymond says

    Paul – tsk, tsk… you’re not meant to READ the article! You’re meant to comment without reading it properly or getting your facts right first! Oh dear, silly me…

  8. Mick C says

    You are dead right, how do we now JORN didn’t pick up MH370 and that info has been passed on.
    JORN is a highly classified Military capability with only a fraction of what it can do in the Public notice.
    Australia like all Countries do no tellt the Public about every last piece of capability they have.
    The new G550 ISR Aircraft are a great example; the first anyone in the public knew was a FMS notice to the US Congress for 2 G550 Aircraft.

  9. says

    Raymond, I read the article very well and my question/ statement was very well related to the subject. It was a capability statement of JORN and I’m sure I can ask a question without prejudice!