Analysis and Commentary

Planning for defence industry puts manufacturing modernisation in the shade

Analysis and Commentary

Comment by Peter Roberts

The federal government continues to impress with its continuing rollout of policies and plans to support the creation of defence industry that can help secure Australia in times of trouble.

There is already a suite of policies supporting building industry capabilities, identifying critical sovereign capabilities, assisting SMEs into global supply chains, R&D support and so on.

Recently defence industry minister Melissa Price has been rolling out ‘capability Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Plans’ to build and grow industry.

The latest is a plan for enhanced active phased array and passive radar – a clear reference to cutting edge technologies developed by CEA Technologies and others.

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.”

CEA Technologies CEAFAR active phased array radar has a unique microwave tile-based design combined with Digital Beam Forming (DBF), making it ideal for anti-ship missile defence.

Being progressively installed on ANZAC class frigates, the radar is being considered for use by the United Kingdom and its technologies adapted for land-based and other uses.

There are also other defence industry plans for combat clothing, land combat and protected vehicles, aerospace platform deeper maintenance and structural integrity.

The strength of these defence industry efforts is in the interlocking policies, plans and cultural change underway in Defence which ha seen it reach out and work with industry.

The depth of these changes suggest Canberra’s manufacturing modernisation plan, should be seen only as a first installment in efforts to kick-start the sector – as I have argued the plan in itself is inadequate to the task.

The plan said little about procurement by government and for major private sector projects – an obvious area where cultural change and legislation is necessary to change today’s all to common enchant for buying from overseas.

Hopefully Canberra does not think the job is done and is working hard to give general industry the same support and consideration it does defence, and that there will be more modernisation annoucemments to come.

As we have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic, being able to produce essential items such as drugs and medical equipment locally is just as important to Australia’s security as making bullets.

Picture: CEA Technologies/CEFAR radar mast on an ANZAC class frigate

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