Of the nearly 50 major programs and phases currently being progressed by Defence in the joint space, several may not be high profile but nevertheless are key drivers towards an integrated force.

Australia first obtained access to the US Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system in 2010, and work continues under JP 2008 to maximum the benefits to the ADF of access to this vital resource.

With more than 3,500 Land 200 BMS nodes delivered and the joint Army/Air Force DTCS approaching final operating capability, Army has turned the first corner on the long road to the networked, joint force envisioned under Plan Beersheba.

The sprawling beast that is JP2008 in all its phases is complicated to say the least. One phase is being managed as a Project of Concern, some are being delivered or have been delivered and bids have gone into the box for another.

The biennial Talisman Sabre exercises are the principal Australian and US bilateral training activities and over 29,000 personnel, 200 aircraft and 21 warships participated in the 2015 event.

With the Triton due to hit an important milestone at the end of the year, it was heartening to see the platform in the flesh at Pax River working steadily towards that goal.

As the largest warships ever commissioned in to the Royal Australian Navy, the 27,000-tonne Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious assault ships HMAS Canberra and NUSHIP Adelaide are rewriting the book on force projection ability for the ADF.

The current CBRN threat, or at least perception of it, is increasing with the use of CBRN agents in Syria and Iraq by the Assad regime and ISIS, and is likely to be replicated by IS outside these countries by individuals wanting to create fear and inertia.

The introduction of new digital technology is likely to see the operational capability of Australia’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers increase substantially across the spectrum of close air support operations.

The notion of acquiring new, enhanced non-lethal weapons, to provide deployed forces with greater options than through the use of lethal force, had its genesis in the 2009 Defence White Paper. And there it appears to have rested.

Under JP 3021’s first phase Defence plans to acquire a mobile threat emitter system to provide aircrew with EW training and mission rehearsal exercises against ground-based air defence (GBAD) systems. So far Australian aircrew have had to rely on the use of overseas EW ranges on an ad-hoc basis during Red Flag and similar exercises.

Government approval is now anticipated in FY 2014-15 for the final phase of DEF 7013 Joint Intelligence Support System (JISS), delays to which have enabled it to more thoroughly encompass its whole-of-government ambit.

Joint Project JP2030 has for several years refined, enhanced and upgraded the Australian Defence Forces Command and Control System Support capability. Despite the cancellation of one increment due to budget pressures, the current phase will continue this evolution through until at least 2016.

The CTD Extension Program (CTDEP) was announced in the Defence and Industry Policy Statement 2007, and was established to support the transition of successful CTD projects into Australian Defence Force (ADF) service.

In October last year Defence sought tenders for the Phase 2B requirements of JP2072’s Battlespace Communications System (Land). ADM understands there were four respondents, presumably each quietly hoping that this project does not lie stranded on the high altar of Budget Surplus.