The ISS team currently comprises 40 individuals who provide Field Service Support logistics, maintenance, warehousing, project management and delivery for all of L3Harris Communications’ Australian sustainment programs, according to Paul Buckingham, L3Harris Senior Program Manager. The company expects this number to grow to substantially through 2021 to around 70.
“Next year, we’ll see some significant change in terms of capability and resourcing in our organisation,” says Buckingham. “We expect to increase our Satellite Communications business as we expand our support solution across further CoA SATCOM terminals. This represents a significant expansion and provides the building blocks to grow further into our legacy L3 Technologies business here in country. To accommodate this, we are making significant investments to expand our facilities and capabilities.”
Building on solid ground
The organization has grown significantly over the years based on the solid performance of its first contract, the Mature Support Contract (MSC). This eight-year, performance-based contract now provides sustainment support for more than 21,000 tactical radios for the CoA. Now in its sixth year, L3Harris repairs approximately 5,500 individual radios and ancillaries per year and has never missed a single contract Key Performance Indicator, which enables the company to secure further contract extensions and growth, says Buckingham.
In order to meet the needs of the CoA, L3Harris made a considerable investment to ensure as much maintenance work as possible could be completed in-country. This includes the installation of a secure Zone 4 vault, required to conduct maintenance on Controlled Cryptographic Items.
“The Commonwealth is always very keen to have indigenous support capabilities, and, from an L3Harris perspective, the investment was the right decision to make,” says Buckingham. “The customer sees the commitment and investment made by the company to develop and invest in Australian capability, which further builds confidence that L3Harris is a reliable and trusted partner of the CoA.”
The ability to repair to Level 3+ on radios – anything that does not require removing components from circuit boards – all in one building not only reduces repair turn-around times, it mitigates the Commonwealth’s sparing requirements, adds Buckingham. If an urgent need arises, L3Harris can use warehoused units and get them where they need to be within short notice, which supports the CoA directly with their operational tasking. The facility itself is integrated into the Commonwealth’s warehousing system, meaning the CoA can see what assets L3Harris has available or in repair at any time.
The company also provides Field Service support as part of the MSC and has at any time eight Field Service Representatives (FSR) tasks underway, including embedded FSRs in Australian Defence Force units training personnel on the functionality and interoperability of L3Harris radios.
“As the Commonwealth starts to modernize their capability, which is underway currently, they’ll see new radios delivered in – the AN/PRC-160s, AN/PRC-158s and AN/PRC-163s – and that’s significant new product types into the Australian environment that we need to be prepared and committed to support,” says Buckingham. “The customer has to get used to new product and understand what capability this brings in comparison to the legacy radios, and that’s where the FSRs really come to the forefront.”
Expanding into the skies
As L3Harris bolsters its In-Service Support capabilities within Australia, the company expects to provide the same level of support for Satellite Communications sustainment as for tactical radios.
The Commonwealth awarded a 14-month, performance-based contact to L3Harris in July to support a significant quantity of Australia’s Hawkeye™ III Lite terminals. The company expects this work to broaden and include two other legacy types of terminals, which the Commonwealth previously purchased from the company. This would increase the volume of business roughly six times and is expected to be another performance-based contract lasting up to 10 years.
“The strategy is very much to continue in the same vein with the SATCOM contract as we are with the MSC,” says Buckingham. “We’re going through a process at the moment to investigate what capability can be created in-country, and what investment needs to be made for sparing, resourcing and training. We’re already going through that process for the Hawkeye terminals.”