HF agreement with Defence | ACMA

HF agreement with Defence

HFDF antenna Hobart_cropped jpg

HFDF antenna array at the ACMA monitoring station near Hobart

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Department of Defence and the Defence Materiel Organisation have finalised an agreement that authorises the ACMA to use four High Frequency (HF) receiver sites in mainland Australia that are part of the Defence High Frequency Communications System (DHFCS).

Access to DHFCS receiver sites will allow the ACMA to establish a new High Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) and monitoring system, while closing the three HF receiver sites that it currently operates in mainland Australia. Funding for a new HFDF and monitoring system was provided to the ACMA in the 2013-14 budget.

The infrastructure-sharing arrangement is being implemented through ACMA participation in Project Nullarbor, an upgrade to DHFCS that will be completed by Boeing Defence Australia in late 2016. The cross-portfolio agreement will deliver cost savings to the Commonwealth of up to $2 million as well as ongoing benefits to Defence and the ACMA over the life of DHFCS.

‘I welcome this historic agreement between the Department of Defence, the Defence Materiel Organisation and the ACMA,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. 

‘At a time when we are all operating under significant financial constraints, it is an example of how the public service can innovate and do things smarter, and work across traditional boundaries to improve outcomes and reduce costs,’ he said.

Access to the Defence HF receiver sites will allow the ACMA to triangulate and identify sources of interference in the HF band. Once it has identified the source of interference, the ACMA works with regulators in other countries to reduce or eliminate interference to Australian users of the HF band, including international broadcasters, Australians in remote areas, ships at sea and aircraft in flight.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 84/2014 - 22 December


HF communications are used for long range radiocommunications by the aviation, broadcasting and transport sectors, the emergency services, Defence and by Australians living or working in regional and remote areas. Use of the HF band is crucial to the safe operation of aircraft and vessels in accordance with international and national requirements.

The 2013-14 budget provided the ACMA with funding of $10.5 million, (including $9.2 million in capital funding), to establish a new HFDF and monitoring system with an operational lifetime of 20 years from 2015-2035. The new system was expected to comprise four ACMA owned and operated HF receiver sites (with three of those sites on mainland Australia).

The ACMA identified an opportunity to partner with the Department of Defence in late 2013 in Project Nullarbor.

Agreement for ACMA participation in Project Nullarbor was finalised in November 2014 by a Memorandum of Understanding between the ACMA, the Department of Defence and the Defence Materiel Organisation. As a result, ACMA requirements have been incorporated into the contract with Boeing and Project Nullarbor will be partially funded by the ACMA. In addition to the savings achieved by sharing infrastructure, there will be ongoing benefits for both Defence and the ACMA over the life of DHFCS.

The ACMA is now completing the upgrade of its HFDF facilities at only one of its present sites—Quoin Ridge in Tasmania—and will have access to data from HF receivers at four Defence sites in mainland Australia from late 2016. HF receivers operated by the ACMA at sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland will then be decommissioned.

The ACMA will not have a continuing requirement for its monitoring site at Birkdale in metropolitan Brisbane after the completion of Project Nullarbor. The ACMA expects to dispose of the Birkdale property in 2017 in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Disposal Policy.

Last updated: 03 October 2016