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Government backs regional defence technology hub

In an announcement made earlier this year by the then Minister for Defence Industry, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds, nine Australian businesses were awarded Defence Innovation Hub contracts, including DMTC Limited.

In partnership with Thales Australia, DMTC is conducting research and development into networking equipment carried by soldiers, including advancement of small arms capability and future battle systems.

In making the announcement, Minister Reynolds said the contract was an example of how the Government is continuing to invest in local defence industry and developing Defence capability, and that DMTC continued to play a key role in the Australian defence industry sector.

“This is an important contract that recognises that Australian Scientists and Engineers are able to lead the way in next generation soldier systems development,” Director Soldier Weapons Systems at Thales Graham Evenden said.

“Teaming with DMTC enables Thales to work collaboratively with the wider Australia academia, research and SME communities. These research and development activities are very important contributors to building a priority Sovereign Industrial Capability.”

The partnership between Thales and DMTC has enabled collaboration with research partners at RMIT and University of Queensland, and is connected to work being undertaken by the University of Sydney, Deakin University and Bond University. 

“An example of the work done through the DMTC partnership is RMIT’s contribution, in two areas, to the Networked Future Augmented Small-arms Technologies (N-FAST) program,” Mr Evenden notes. 

“RMIT has a Research Assistant working on modelling to support design activities for improved thermal management and light weighting; and a Masters student working on IoT networking of sensors.” 

The partnership also includes the University of Queensland (UQ) as a research partner in the N-FAST program. The UQ contribution includes a PhD student working on materials selection for improved thermal management and light weighting of mission systems. In addition, UQ has two undergraduate students and summer students working with projects in this area.

Deakin University- Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation has a project working on controllers for a Virtual Reality training and product development simulation system, whilst Bond University – Tactical Research Unit, Institute of Health and Sport is engaged in looking at human factors analysis.

The University of Sydney is also currently engaged with Thales on an ARC Linkage program for integrated optical phased arrays for light detection and ranging (LIDAR). This project aims to resolve challenging problems in LIDAR to enable realisation of LIDAR sensors with low-power consumption, small size, high resolution and low cost with the potential of being able to provide 3D mapping capabilities on mission systems.  

Mr Evenden also noted that investments like these from the Defence Innovation Hub demonstrates to the wider defence industry that the Government is backing its push for Sovereign Industry Capability.

“Having world-leading technology development capability in Australia – like the work we are doing with DMTC to industrialise research outcomes – goes a long way to strengthen Defence’s Sovereign Industry Capabilities,” he added. 

“The investment made by the Defence Innovation Hub will ensure continued R&D insertion into future programs. Having leading scientists and the younger generation of university students involved will ensure our Forces will have the most modern, reliable equipment on the battlefield. And, it will be designed, engineered and manufactured right here in Australia.

“I look forward to seeing this progress further and establishing a proudly Australian SME supply chain to help produce next generation systems in Australia.”