In the latest in the string of announcements following the release of the Defence Strategic Review, the government has today revealed it will invest $3.4 billion over the next decade to establish the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA), transforming Australia’s defence innovation ecosystem.
This is an additional $591 million above current planned spending on defence innovation.
"Australia has lost the ten year warning time. The Defence Strategic Review concluded that we need more effective support for innovation, faster acquisition and better links between Defence and industry to deliver the capabilities the Australian Defence Force (ADF) needs," a press release said.
"ASCA will be a key element of the Defence innovation, science and technology program."
Priorities for the program 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 release continued. "This is the most significant reshaping of defence innovation in decades that will deliver vital capabilities for the ADF."
ASCA will replace the Defence Innovation Hub and Next Generation Technologies Fund, which the Defence Strategic Review identified are no longer fit for purpose in Australia’s current strategic environment.
“At the heart of government’s ability to reshape the ADF for the strategic circumstances we face is ensuring we have the capabilities to do so," 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. This is precisely what the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator will deliver.”
“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."
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 operating by 1 July and undergo a phased start up over the first 18 months.
“Our strategic circumstances require us to adapt our approach to innovation. The Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator will lead the way in agile delivery of capability solutions to the Australian Defence Force," Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy added.
“The Government’s commitment to supporting innovation – in partnership with Australian industry and research organisations – is at the heart of our nation’s response to the challenges we face.
“Delivering emerging disruptive technologies into the hands of the war fighter is critical. ASCA will respond to our highest priorities, bringing essential capabilities to our forces at the speed of relevance.
“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.”