Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced the government intends to upgrade Australia’s radar technology, writes Charbel Kadib.
The plans are outlined in the Department of Defence’s latest implementation plan for its Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
This forms part of the government’s Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan announced earlier this year, which aims to build a “robust, resilient and internationally competitive” Australian defence industry.
This latest plan outlines four critical industrial capabilities, which Defence seeks to gain access to or control over:
- Active and passive radar design and production — research, design, assembly, integration and upgrade of advanced radar technologies that offer scalable and capable radars for use in the maritime, land and air environments;
- Adaptive methods — Research and development of adaptive methods to enable superior performance in contested and degraded environments;
- System design and integration skills — Development of complex radar systems engineering, hardware and real-time software engineering skills to design and integrate technologies within the radar, including improved data and sensor fusion; and
- Sustainment of advance radar systems — Skills, equipment and facilities necessary to maintain and provide ongoing assurance of leading radar systems.
Accordingly, Defence has set out a plan to attain the following capabilities in collaboration with industry over the coming years:
- Modelling and simulation – Access to the skills, tools and facilities that would help Defence form an understanding of the threat profiles and environmental factors that would support design, development and testing in a classified environment; and
- Test facilities – Access to large and secure anechoic chambers for radio frequency quiet field testing.
Defence has set out an implementation timeline, with specific responsibilities delegated to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Joint Capabilities Group, Vice Chief of the Defence Force – Future Force Design, and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).
The timeline includes an exploratory study on advanced semiconductor technology design and manufacture (late 2021), aimed at assessing the viability of establishing an in-country semiconductor production capability.
Defence will also develop a strategic plan and associated technology roadmap of the capability expectations and technology evolution projection for the next 15 years, designed to provide visibility of acquisition and support programs to guide industry investments, innovation, collaboration, and research and development efforts.
“Australia boasts world-leading active phased array radar capability and we have enormous potential in the development of passive radar systems and related technologies,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.
“We need a strong partnership with Australian industry to maintain and grow the capability advantage provided by our innovative Australian companies and their substantial expertise in these radar systems.
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“This latest Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Plan demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to enhancing those critical capabilities in Australia.”
The release of this latest roadmap follows the publication of the Combat Clothing, and the Munitions and Small Arms Plans in December 2019, the Land Combat and Protected Vehicles Plan in August 2020, and the Aerospace Platform Deeper Maintenance and Structural Integrity Implementation Plan earlier this month.
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