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.

The final phase of JP2060, a project established 16 years ago to deliver a deployable health capability for the prevention, treatment and evacuation of ADF casualties incurred in joint operations, is unlikely to go to tender until the final quarter of 2014.

If there is anyone qualified to comment on the New Zealand Army’s health services it is surely Lieutenant Colonel Chris Mitchell, Chief Staff Officer Health.

Joint Project 3011, Joint Non-Lethal Capability, has a fairly significant provenance, including longstanding DSTO and service interest, a formal needs analysis, an RPDE study and finally inclusion in the 2009 Defence White Paper. But little seems to be happening…

The AEW&C is now providing the ADF with an insight into its ability to operate as an important part of the future networked battlespace.

The reported willingness of terrorists and rogue states to embrace Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear means of warfare have concerned the militaries of the world for some time and ongoing Australian deployments overseas has focussed local attention on defence against such threats.

The air defence target system to be acquired under JP66 aims to exercise this country’s current and future air defence weapons against a range of air threats. But if Klub-killers and similar are not on the menu for SEA 4000 then engagement only in low level hostilities should be the order of the day for the RAN.