The Australian government released its long-awaited request for tender (RFT) for the country's Civil Maritime Surveillance 2004 (CMS04) project on 30 July. Now valued at close to A$1 billion ($700 million) over 12 years, it is the largest civil maritime surveillance contract in the world, writes Emma Kelly.

The RFT process closes on 28 October, with contract signing planned for June 2005 and delivery to start in July 2007.

The Australian Customs Service is seeking tenders for two services. Service A is a full surveillance service for the inshore and offshore zones of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone and remote areas, complemented by a wide-area surveillance capability mainly south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Service B involves a helicopter surveillance and response service for the Torres Strait.

Services are now provided by Surveillance Australia and Reef Helicopters, using Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops, Reims F406s and Bell 412 helicopters. The government has awarded A$135 million deals to the contractors to continue providing civil maritime surveillance services until the delayed CMS04 contracts start in July 2007. National Air Support's Surveillance Australia, which has held the contract since 1994, has picked up extensions valued at $125 million for its Dash 8 and Reims F406 operations.

Source: Flight International