Tag Archives: defence industry

defence industry

Partnerships driving next generation defence technologies

As the Chief Defence Scientist, my job is to ensure the best science and technology is applied to deliver solutions for Australia’s defence and national security. Since the White Paper was released in 2016, Defence has embarked on a huge $195 billion technology refresh program to build game-changing capabilities based on partnerships through research and innovation, working with Australia’s best and brightest.    

Solving defence industry capability problems is a complex challenge; it requires deep and extensive collaboration across disciplines, organisations and geographic boundaries.

The 2016 Defence White Paper created a clear pathway for collaboration by establishing a new unified innovation system with an investment of $1.9 billion over 10 years.

The new system centres around a Defence Innovation Hub ($640 M), a Next Generation Technologies Fund ($730 M) and a Defence Innovation Portal as an interface into the innovation system.

The Defence Science and Technology team manages the Next Generation Technologies Fund. It focuses on early stage, high-risk research and invites proposals to collaborate on game-changing capabilities through the Defence Innovation Portal. Promising proposals are progressed through the Defence Innovation Hub for further development.   

To focus our efforts, we picked nine ‘winner’ domains where investment in science and technology could lead to game-changing defence industry capabilities. These range from space and cyber to autonomous systems and quantum technologies.

We also settled on seven program elements, with different forms of interaction and collaboration. Defence CRCs are one part of the program that’s made considerable progress.  

The first Defence CRC, on Trusted Autonomous Systems, follows a mission-driven approach ensuring the outcome will be delivered by industry utilising academic and public-funded research agencies as research providers.

Defence is investing $50 million over seven years in the CRC to develop trusted smart machine technologies for ADF capabilities in the land, aerospace and maritime domains. The Defence CRC has been registered with initial participating members BAE Systems Australia, RMIT University, DefendTex and DST.

The first three research projects will be led by BAE Systems, Thales and Lockheed Martin. Other companies and universities will join as the CRC develops more projects. The Queensland State government is providing $50 million in cash and in-kind support.

The Next Generation Technologies Fund is continually generating new opportunities under its various programs, including the call for proposals for the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence, which is imminent.

In the defence industry we are keen to harness the collective expertise of the country’s innovation sector and there has never been a better time for research partnerships than now, to realise the future capabilities of the ADF.

Defence Force Summit

Defence workforce is not just the Defence Force

STEM skills strategy as national endeavour, says Department of Defence.

Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister of Defence implored Australians to ‘let loose their inner geek’ at the inaugural STEM in Defence, co-presented by the Australian Defence Magazine and Informa, held in Canberra on 30th of November.

“It’s not possible to overstate the level of challenge we are faced with,” the Senator said when talking about the critical need to rapidly drive a STEM-skilled workforce, a concept echoed across the day by representatives from the Department of Defence, Defence Science Technology group (DST) and industry partners including Boeing, BAE Systems and Navantia Australia.

“We are changing the shape of our workforce and our recruitment messages needs to reflect that,” she continued, advising a broad, cross-agency approach to avoid inter-departmental ‘cannibalization’ of talent.

Matt Ramage, Assistant Secretary, Defence Industry, Department of Defence also recognised that a Defence STEM strategy is a national endeavor rather than a Defence endeavor. The Department of Defence, he believes, will play a critical role but will need to work with other parts of industry to raise the broader level of STEM skills in all Australians.

“With the continuous shipbuilding program in South Australia, specific skills will be required,” Mr Ramage said. “And more advertising and promoting of the Defence Industry as a career path for young Australians is needed.”

The common perception remains that a career in Defence involves front-line combat and uniforms. However the sophistication and breadth of skills required over the next 40 years is staggering. The DST has $1.6 billion allocated to innovation initiatives over the next ten years, including $730 million for the Next Generation Technology Fund.

The Defence STEM strategy will reference five domains. The domains of land, sea and air have been included since World War One. Newly added are cyber and space.

“Scientists will be just as important as our front line soldiers and their ability to cut code quickly will be critical,” said Army Drones Programs Brigadier, Chris Mills, Director General Modernisation – Army. Unmanned aerial systems including drones that use swarm mentality will shape the future of Defence. Soldiers at all levels will need to understand and engage comfortably with these technologies.

The future Defence workforce is not confined to the Defence Force. The Defence Industry includes thousands of businesses, men and women across the country who aren’t in the Defence Force but they use their skills to supply and support it. It’s equally important to companies in the Defence industry that Australia builds its STEM capacity.

Shelley Willsmore from BAE Systems explained that 60% of their workforce is STEM related but 35% of their workers are already aged over 50 years.

“Looking at the growth that’s about to hit us, we see the challenges” she said. With the increase in shipbuilding, BAE Systems plans to recruit 2000 STEM graduates by 2018 and they need to look at new avenues to attract people at all levels of their careers.

The challenge is to communicate the full breadth of high tech jobs in the Defence force, added Pauline Richards, Director – Human Resources at Navantia Australia. “Australia will be at the forefront of the shipbuilding industry. We need to sell our industry as an industry where you can gain more than you ever thought possible.”

– Karen Taylor-Brown

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e-textile

E-textile helps soldiers plug in

Featured image above: BAE Systems new e-textile could benefit a wide variety of professions, including the military. Credit: BAE Systems

A wireless conductive fabric that allows soldiers to plug electronic devices directly into armour is making a commercial push into Southeast Asia.

BAE Systems has developed the Broadsword Spine garment, which is being distributed throughout the Asia Pacific region by its Australian arm, based in Adelaide.

It was designed using a unique e-textile created by Intelligent Textiles Limited in the United Kingdom and can be inserted inside vests, jackets or belts.

BAE Systems’ wireless connector promises a range of benefits for multiple professions including the emergency services.

Broadsword Spine is on display this week at the Land Forces 2016 event in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

Program manager David Wilson said the technology was extremely lightweight and was able to pass power from any source, which made it adaptable to an assortment of devices.

“It’s revolutionary in terms of how it can pass power and data through USB 2.0,” he says.

“It reduces the weight and cognitive burden of the soldier because it is doing a lot of power and data management automatically.

“It also has no cables, which means you’ve got no snag hazard and no issue in terms of the breaking of cables and having to replace them.”

Broadsword Spine has been designed to replace contemporary heavy portable data and power supplies used by the military as well as firefighters, paramedics and rescue personnel.

The lack of cables and additional batteries make the new material 40 per cent lighter than other systems.

The e-textile was also developed to withstand harsh environments and is water, humidity, fire and shock resistant.

The material uses highly developed yarns that act as the electricity and data conductor.

It is able to connect to a central power source to support all electronic devices and is easily recharged in the field using simple batteries or in-vehicle charging points.

There are eight protected data or power ports that are capable of supplying 5A and operate at USB 2.0 speeds.

The management of power and data is automated and is performed by a computer that is embedded into the e-textile loom.

Users also have the option of monitoring and controlling the technology manually using a smartphone app.

Wilson said contemporary models were often heavy could be highly complicated products that required special maintenance.

“It’s unique in that regard in that we don’t sell the whole system, we sell the middle architecture and allow the customer to decide what they want and how to integrate that system,” he says.

“We’ve published the pin-outs and connections so they can create their own integration cables. They don’t have to keep coming back to us and that way they can support it themselves.”

Low rate production of the  Broadsword Spine has begun in the United Kingdom.

Wilson said when production increased, the company would work to distribute the product to the Asia-Pacific region from its Adelaide base next year.

Land Forces is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier defence industry exhibition and has more than 400 participating exhibition companies from about 20 countries as well as about 11,000 trade visitors.

South Australian exhibitors at the event include University of South Australia, which has developed  camouflage cells for tanks, and Supashock, which has unveiled damping technology taken from race cars for use in army trucks.

– Caleb Radford 

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 8 September 2016. Read the original article here