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UNSW collaborates on air defence system research

written by Robert Dougherty | October 27, 2023

UNSW Canberra and electronic warfare firm DEWC will work together to research technologies that could form part of a future air and missile defence system for Australia.

In particular, the two organisations will collaborate on the discovery of digital engineering technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

DEWC chief executive officer Allan Dundas said the joint research project brings together the complementary strengths of DEWC and UNSW to solve the challenge of improving Australia’s future IAMD capability and better equipping ADF personnel to detect and respond to threats at speed.

“We are delighted to be working on our first collaborative project with the research team at the UNSW Canberra Capability Systems Centre,” Dundas said.


“The university’s experience in guided weapons, digital engineering, and modelling and simulation, combined with DEWCs’ strong track record of providing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare (C4ISREW) solutions to Defence, will drive innovative solutions to this complex challenge.

“Ensuring Australia has a seamlessly integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) is extremely important to protecting our country from potential threats.

“Not only is it a priority area in Australia’s recent Defence Strategic Review, but the current conflicts in Europe and the Middle East demonstrates just how vital having a highly responsive and time-critical IAMD is for keeping Australia safe.”

The development of capabilities will also be discussed at the UNSW Canberra 2023 Digital Engineering Summit on 17 November.

DEWC Canberra research lead Dr Aaron Matthews said the research will focus on how digital engineering approaches can support the ADF’s decision-making when responding to advanced and capable hostile states.

“The scale and capabilities of new air and missile threats makes the IAMD task extremely challenging. It is no longer possible for humans to be directly involved in every stage of the IAMD mission,” Dr Matthews said.

“There are a range of complex considerations a commander or even the system operator must take into account when responding to a threat and with modern threats being harder to detect and faster than previous generations, the time to make an optimal response is reduced to seconds.

“This is one area in the IAMD problem set which can be supported with AI, machine learning, and digital engineering approaches.”

UNSW Canberra Capability Systems Centre (CSC) director and associate professor Sondoss El Sawah said the UNSW and DEWC are working collaboratively to turn novel ideas into technologies and systems that Defence can innovate, build, and deploy efficiently.

“Any integrated air and missile capability has a massive amount of data and we need the ability to understand this data, detect patterns, and inform decision making, which is beyond the cognitive capacity of any person or team,” El Sawah said.

“Digital technology has the potential to transform our approach to strengthening this Defence capability and helping Defence operators make the right decisions quickly in a real-time situation.

“UNSW Canberra CSC and DEWC are bringing unique strengths to this research challenge and we are building a collaborative framework which will leverage the strengths of all digital technologies, including AI and machine learning, systems engineering, and modelling and simulation.”

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