Defence Force to secure headquarters with solar array

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The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) near Bungendore, just outside Canberra, is set to receive a 1.9MW solar array as part of extensive $31 million site upgrades to better facilitate cyber and space command. 

The HQJOC site, known as the General John Baker Complex, is the joint command and control headquarters for the ADF’s maritime, land, and air operations worldwide. The secretive base, whose whereabouts is classified information to anyone without access to Wikipedia, is set to demonstrate a level of technological advancement so far only reached by the nation’s shopping centres by installing a carport-mounted solar array to offset some of its energy costs and enhance the resilience of the top-secret military facility. 

A Defence spokesperson told pv magazine Australia that the ADF is “committed to identifying opportunities to increase the use of renewable and alternative energy sources for Defence facilities.” 

For obvious reasons of security, the Defence spokesperson would not comment on the energy needs of the General John Baker Complex and thus the proportion of energy offset by the solar farm. This information is further clouded by the larger site expansion and upgrade which will see it house up to 1,400 personnel, double the site’s original 2008 capacity. 

HQJOC’s expansion is largely driven toward the catering of growing cyber and space operations. Obviously, with an unknown state-actor, that may or may not rhyme with ‘Bhina’, battering Australia’s cyber defences like a larrikin to a pub door during lockdown, such an expansion seems perfectly necessary. It seems as if the ADF is finally realising the inherent the strategic advantage of solar in the sunburnt country. 

Moreover, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds emphasised the importance of upgrades to HQJOC considering the “vital role HQJOC played in the Australian Government’s response to the Black Summer bushfires and Covid-19. This investment will improve the facility’s capacity to support the Australian Defence Force’s response to domestic and international crises.”

This is not the first time Australia has thought to defend itself with its most plentiful resource, the sun. In March 2019, the ADF unveiled a 1.2MW solar array at its Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) at Kojarena, Western Australia. 

Construction on the 1.9MW solar array is set to begin in August, 2020. It is understood that Praeco Pty Ltd., the company which manages the clandestine facility, will be taking advantage of local industry, though the divulgence of any specifics would no doubt come at the risk of finding a Jason Bourne-like figure sitting ominously in the darkness of your kitchen.