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Defence thin client trial gets OK

Government also rubber-stamps "networked soldier" project

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Despite being battered by scandal and at loggerheads with its minister, the Australian Defence Force has been permitted to invest in trialling thin client computers and rolling out new telecoms networks.

The thin client trial would test the new desktops with 15,000 of the ADF’s 75,000 users. Since thin clients can be more tightly managed than standard desktops, Defence expects to be able to allow access to both restricted and secret classified systems from the same machine, rather than two desktops as is currently the case.

The pilot will also allow Defence to confirm requirements and likely costs for a full rollout.

In a second announcement, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the ADF has been approved to proceed with the next phase of a major communications upgrade.

“Joint Project 2072 Phase 2B” gives first-pass approval to a telecommunications system using both wired and wireless communications, at a cost “capped” at between A$100 and A$500 million.

Smith’s announcement describes what sounds like a “networked soldier” vision. He says the new communications environment “will greatly enhance Defence’s ability to use modern information technology to link sensors, weapon systems, commanders and personnel in a networked environment.”

Final approval for the project is expected sometime between 2012 and 2015. ®

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