Updated Sept 27 at 1:20pm
Now in its sixth year, Army Innovation Day (AID) in 2019 had a theme of network assurance with 10 companies pitching their tech to defence.
“This year’s theme, network assurance, will ensure the Army’s communication networks are more resilient, agile and protected against adversaries,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.
AID is a joint venture between Army and the Defence Innovation Hub, with selected companies showcasing a range of the latest technological advancements on this year’s theme.
Organisers were much more targeted in their approach this year with a smaller field of contenders compared to previous years.
While it can be hard to get excited about the ones and zeros behind the networks that support a true fifth generation force, they are now crucial to how the ADF fights.
“We’re very excited about a number of systems here to support connectedness, resiliency and agile security,” Brigadier Richard Vagg, Director General of Systems and Integration in Army Headquarters said. “They are mainly SMEs here today so we can really go after some smart local systems.”
Brigadier Vagg explained that the network is now central to the way Army fights and this is only going to increase with new capabilities under Land 400 and 200 coming online.
“But we also need to make it simpler,” BRIG Vagg said to ADM. “We have to make sure there are less seams, less interfaces that can be points of vulnerability in those networks.”
Companies on show this year included Defendtex, Penten, Advanced Design Technology, Net Consulting Australia, Advanced Navigation, Agent Oriented Software, SRC Australia alongside the CDIC, Army History Unit, DST Group and Army’s Future Land Warfare Centre.
From self-healing networks that frequency hop without a user realising to cyber security approaches that focus on secure mobility, the technology on show covered a range of approaches to network assurance.
Past AID ‘winners’ SYPAQ and DefendTex were also on hand with some of their previous technologies that are progressing through trial phases with Army. On show last year, SYPAQ’s the Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS) has evolved thanks to a tight design/test/design/test framework with Army.
“We’re really looking forward to the next round of trials,” SYPAQ CEO Amanda Holt said to ADM. “Although it is cardboard, it’s proven to be much more resilient than we thought and can be reused multiple times on round trips.”
DefendTex’s Drone 40 was also on display, a technology that has been going through the AID/Innovation Hub process with the company winning multiple Innovation Hub contracts to progress its technologies. Senior Defence sources are impressed with the utility of the product that has a more than odds on chance of seeing service with the Australian Army in the near future.
Past winners now in service
AID gives industry a clear path into service with Army or Special Forces. A Defence spokesperson confirmed that the following technologies from past AIDs are now in the hands of users.
- Black Hornet (unmanned aerial system supplied by FLIR) – introduced into service in 2018
- Wasp (unmanned aerial system supplied by Aerovironment) – introduced into service in 2017
- Targets and Ranges (combined arms and field targets supplied by Australian Target Systems) – introduced into service in 2019
- Robotic Moving Targets (supplied by Marathon Targets) – introduced into service in 2018
- Raider Targets (armour vehicle targets supplied by Deakin University) – introduced into service in 2019
- Range Visualisation Tool (modernising and improving land range safety, supplied by SAF Foresight) – introduced into service in 2019