Government focus on defence innovation – Thistlethwaite


The Assistant Minister for defence Matt Thistlethwaite has spruiked the government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review in the field of defence innovation, including through joint work with AUKUS partners the US and the UK.

The DSR found that more support is needed for innovation, faster acquisition and better links between Defence and industry to deliver essential ADF capabilities.

Thistlethwaite said: “To meet this challenge the Australian innovation system must be harnessed to deliver military capability advantages much faster, in tangible ways – and the system has to deliver time and time again, for the foreseeable future.

“That, in a nutshell, is the job of the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) which commenced operations on the first of July last year.

“We’ve funded it with $3.4 billion over the next decade.”

He was making his comments in a speech ‘People, power, posture – modernising the Australian Defence Force to meet the challenges of the future.’

Thistlethwaite said ASCA had quickly to market seeking sovereign solutions for small un-crewed aerial systems and within five months it sought partners for the first ASCA mission, as well as requesting white papers on Information Warfare and Quantum Technologies.

This year, ASCA, UK and US innovation programmes will support the first AUKUS Innovation Challenge, on electronic warfare.

Thistlethwaite said: “AUKUS Advanced Capabilities – or Pillar Two, as it’s known – is making great strides in harnessing technological advances that will harden Australia’s capability edge and support strategic deterrence in the region.

“In 2023 AUKUS partners successfully conducted testing and demonstration of artificial intelligence and autonomy, a common command and control architecture and autonomous undersea warfare capabilities.

“Further trials of advanced capabilities are planned for 2024 and beyond.”

New projects unveiled at the last AUKUS Defence Ministers’ Meeting included Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability, the AUKUS Maritime Autonomy Experimentation and Exercise Series, and using artificial intelligence to analyse trilateral sonobuoys data.

“AUKUS partners are also stepping up collaboration between our respective defence innovation and industry sectors in 2024.

“In addition to the AUKUS Innovation Challenge, the first AUKUS Industry Forum meeting will occur in the coming months.

“While our international partnerships are critical, we are also doing more to enhance our national capabilities.

Within Defence, critical investment in cyber capabilities continues to advance, because they are essential to a genuinely Integrated Force.”

He said the government was strengthening the ADF’s ability to command and control its cyber, information and space capabilities whilst integrating with the other warfighting domains.

“Demand for innovation in Defence is both urgent and persistent, and there will never be a point where the government declares this job done.

“It is going to be a critical focus for Government, the ADF and industry, for the foreseeable future.”

Picture: Matt Thistlethwaite

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