The federal government has continued its run of announcements following the release of the Defence Strategic Review last week, revealing a total shake up of defence innovation and its associated grants systems.
The government said it would invest $3.4 billion over the next decade to establish the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA), a rise of $591 million above current planned spending on defence innovation.
The new accelerator will replace the Defence Innovation Hub and Next Generation Technologies Fund which have been considered successful, but lacking a strong connection between grant funding and eventual purchase decision by the Australian Defence Force.
ASCA will be a key element of the Defence innovation, science and technology programme, according to a statement. Priorities for the programme are hypersonics, directed energy, trusted autonomy, quantum technology, information warfare and long-range fires.
“It will focus on defined missions, solving the most relevant technical issues, and taking a more flexible and agile approach to procurement.”
The Defence Strategic Review concluded that Australia needed more effective support for innovation, faster acquisition and better links between Defence and industry to deliver the capabilities the Australian Defence Force (ADF) needs.
SME industry has also raised concerns that decisions are being made without the benefit of a whole of government defence industry policy, advantaging foreign multi-nationals in its purchasing decisions.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the strategic circumstances required adaption of the government’s approach to innovation.
“The Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator will lead the way in agile delivery of capability solutions to the Australian Defence Force, delivering emerging disruptive technologies into the hands of the war fighter.
“Innovation must translate into acquisition, and the Defence Accelerator will address the very real and urgent need to turn emerging technologies into game-changing capabilities.
“Linking technology development to speedy acquisition will also create many more jobs in the Australian defence industry.”
The government said the ASCA would support innovative Australian solutions to the challenges we face.
ASCA will be guided by senior levels in Defence – the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, the Chief Defence Scientist and the Deputy Secretary, Capability Acquisitions and Sustainability Group.
It will be up and running quickly by 1 July 2023, with a phased start up over the first 18 months to develop, test and refine the operating model.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said: “The Defence Strategic Review makes clear that Australia must invest in the transition to new and innovative technologies for our Defence Force.
“Central to this will be our ongoing work to operationalise Pillar Two of the AUKUS agreement, which seeks to develop and provide capabilities such as undersea warfare and hypersonics for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Together, these investments will contribute to Australia’s defence industrial base and build on the already strong cooperation with our international partners.”
Picture: Defence Strategic Review