Katherine Ziesing | Newcastle
HunterNet Defence, based in Newcastle, hosts one of the largest regional defence conferences in the land, and it recently attracted 120 delegates to get an update of the state of the nation when it comes to the Defence community.
With a speakers list that encompasses uniforms, politics and industry, it provides an excellent forum for collaboration and information sharing outside the usual capital city environment.
The NSW Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC said the region’s defence and related industry is on the cusp of something special.
“The new Defence Research and Innovation Hub at Williamtown Aerospace Centre will be an exciting addition to the region, helping drive more innovative projects and growth in the sector including for start-up businesses,” MacDonald said.
“The Hunter embodies NSW’s strength in defence force sustainment with Williamtown home to fast-jet maintenance, and now the renewed potential for naval sustainment in Newcastle when the Carrington slipway reopens at the Port.”
The new Defence NSW team headed by Commodore (Retd) Peter Scott was also on deck, with CDRE Scott outlining the role of his new team in leading the collaboration charge at the behest of the state government.
Air Vice Marshal Mel Hupfield, head of Force Design, provided an update on the various policy changes that are filtering through the Defence organisation and their flow on effects for Defence industry. The previous thin veneer of joint capability acquisition that permeated Defence is a thing of the past with the changes the First Principles Review (FPR) is bringing into effect. AVM Hupfield outlined the changes in policy as they related to Smart Buyer, the new Capability Life Cycle (which were merged in March this year), and detailed what information the department is looking to release to industry at an unclassified level to help them support one another.
“These activities are a collection of commonsense approaches that have become more disciplined and therefore more repeatable,” AVM Hupfield said in regard to the change in procurement processes as ”Force Design is not a set and forget function”.
Squadron Leader Nathan Draper provided an update on JSF sustainment plans; as the first Australian maintenance engineer posted to the US, he is now training the next cadre of maintainers at RAAF Williamtown as the base ramps up to receive the jets at the end of next year.
“There are over 300,000 parts on a JSF from 1,500 suppliers globally,” SQNLDR Draper explained. “That’s a lot of opportunities across the Life of Type.”
On the collaboration front, KPMG’s Mike Kalms provided some metrics into how the Defence community performs. In short, not great, according to their survey and research, commissioned by the Centre for Defence Industry Capability last year. The resulting report Defence Capability Collaboration (available on their website – a highly recommended read) found that while most companies thought they were good at collaboration, they rated their partners as less good at it. And this is how every participant responded!
Speaking on DST Group's partnering program expansion over the past 12 months, Dr Mark Petrusma said the organisation had signed $35 million worth of partnering agreements under 348 different guises. Dispensations under the Next Generation Technology Fund saw $15.7 million distributed to 23 universities under 59 projects from a field of 428 applications from 31 universities. The University Research Network framework is also kicking goals with numerous universities signing up to a range of research disciplines.
“The Next Generation Technology Fund is the big R and little d of Research and Development,” Dr Petrusma explained. “The Innovation Hub is the little r and the big D. There is no clear delineation between the two per se, as R&D operates on a continuum.”
For more detailed coverage of the event, look out for the October edition of ADM.