International Conference on Science and Innovation for Land Power

05 Sep 2018 Speech

It’s a pleasure to join you today for the official opening of the International Conference on Science and Innovation for Land Power.

We live in a world where technology is increasing at a rapid pace, giving us global access to knowledge. It is therefore essential that we keep abreast of the latest science and technology developments that provide strategic, operational and tactical advantage for our armed forces.

That’s why the Government has embarked upon a $200 billion technology refresh program to position the Australian Defence Force for success, the largest investment in our peacetime history.

The Government is driving a new approach to Defence innovation that better harnesses Australian expertise.

We are working with industry and academia so that the Australian Defence Force has the technological edge to deal with the range of new and evolving threats and challenges.

The Government is backing this new approach with an investment of $1.6 billion into research and innovation over the next decade.

This is a golden age for the advancement of Defence capability. An investment of this scale has never been attempted before.

This conference focuses on innovation and emerging technologies and presents us with a great opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges the ADF must address in developing game-changing capabilities within the land domain.

People are at the centre of most ADF systems, and the achievement of mission success can often hinge on how well we have prepared and equipped them to perform.

Enhanced Human Performance is one of the key themes identified in the 2016 Defence White Paper for investment under the Next Generation Technologies Fund.

A broad range of scientific disciplines are required to understand and develop enhancements for human performance, and to tailor the systems that soldiers will need to achieve their mission.

Of course, our soldiers deserve the best equipment to fight and win.

Army is working closely with Defence Science and Technology, to better integrate and ensure an efficient transition of rapidly-emerging technology onto the future soldier combat system.

Army’s acquisition program aims to reduce technology and integration risk for our next generation of soldiers.

Army and our Defence scientists are also developing new concepts for utilising emerging technologies to improve safety, reduce burden and improve soldier performance.

DST is collaborating with industry to ensure industrial and manufacturing considerations are included at an early stage to achieve cost-efficient measures without sacrificing capability.

On the research front, Army and DST have established the Human Performance Research Network to address Army’s human performance priorities.

Army has allocated $4 million over four years to undertake this research program, which is being delivered by seven Australian universities.

This collaboration will deliver a range of outcomes, including team resilience and the application of wearable gear for enhancing physical and cognitive performance in an operational context.

I encourage you to visit the DST exhibition during this event, where you will get the opportunity to see the Army’s vision for the future soldier.

In the future the Aussie soldier may also be equipped with a new defence innovations, the ‘fight recorder’.

This small and really innovative device will be worn by the war fighter and act as an emergency beacon. It records battlefield incidents so that aid can be rushed to injured soldiers.

The recording can be used to recreate incidents for lessons to be learnt for the future. This is revolutionary and game-changing.

The fight recorder was conceived in our Defence laboratories and is now being developed by a South Australian firm, Myriota and the Auckland based IMeasureU.

This is a great example of Defence innovation being transitioned into capability with the help of industry.

Another area of innovation is nutrition, which is essential for the ADF to operate at peak cognitive and physical performance in all operational environments.

DST has partnered with the University of Tasmania and the CSIRO to establish a Centre for Food Innovation in Tasmania.

Of specific interest to Defence is food processing and packaging technologies that can produce and maintain fresh, shelf-stable foods for high-performance activities.

DST and the Centre for Food Innovation are exploring leading edge technology that can deliver such ready-made, longer-lasting and more nutritious meals.

This technology is being introduced in Defence’s Scottsdale Nutrition Research Centre in Tasmania in order to develop advanced meals suitable for Defence acquisition.

Making the transition from nutrition to capability, the Government recently selected Rheinmetall as the successful company to deliver Australia’s next generation Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles.

Rheinmetall has also been a valued partner in our science and technology program.

For many years now, Rheinmetall and DST have been working together on simulation environments for the study of land vehicle crew collaboration, and the teaming of humans with robotic and autonomous platforms.

Collaboration has included the study of physiological and cognitive impact of augmented reality devices on humans in order to improve the performance and uptake of current and future technologies.

The $5 billion Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle Project now opens up the scope to further expand our science and technology cooperation into new technology areas, such as semi-autonomous land vehicles; advanced sensing and digitised training systems.

Our innovation evolution is an ongoing process, and I am particularly looking forward to the development of a computer-based program called ‘Bright Fox’.

This simulation software will help Army commanders to think laterally in solving tactical problems and enable them to make superior decisions in demanding warfighting situations.

This type of creative thinking is essential in all aspects of capability development.

We need teams from industry and universities to share their expertise with Defence, and to think outside the box.

That is precisely why we introduced a new Defence Innovation System. The Defence Innovation Hub and the Next Generation Technologies Fund are the signature programs of the new innovation system and they are stimulating fresh ideas and future technologies.

In the first year of operation we received 1,100 proposals for the various innovation programs and we signed $80 million worth of contracts.

The new Defence Innovation System is attracting proposals and ideas from organisations who have had no previous dealings with Defence.

This is most certainly a good thing. And we’re only just beginning.

It shows there is a vast untapped talent out there that must be put to good use for building Defence capability.

They are being attracted by the rewarding opportunities Defence is offering, such as the Grand Challenges program, the Defence Cooperative Research Centre for Trusted Autonomous Systems and the Small Business Research Innovation for Defence program.

These programs are designed to push the boundaries and deliver game-changing capabilities for the future Australian Defence Force.

Earlier this year I released the Defence Industrial Capability Plan which is our roadmap to building a strong and globally-competitive Australian defence industry.

The Government is making a serious investment in Australia’s defence industry so that it is strongly positioned to support Defence capabilities.

We are continuing to maximise industry involvement in capability planning, acquisition and sustainment.

Industry needs to take advantage of the opportunities being offered in the Defence Industrial Capability Plan, the Defence Export Strategy, the Naval Shipbuilding Plan and the Defence Industry Policy Statement.

Together, these policy initiatives will ensure the security of our nation and the prosperity of all Australians.

All of us in this room need to be on this journey for the greater good of our country.

I wish you well for the remainder of the Conference and encourage you all to continue collaborating and creating defence capability.

Thank you.