The Land Combat and Protected Vehicles and Technology Upgrades Plan recently released by the Commonwealth offers a future technology roadmap at an industrial capability level.
Published on 13 August, the plan does not focus on any single industry organisation or any specific future or ongoing Defence tender process.
Rather, it outlines the underlying critical industrial capabilities and enablers necessary for Australian industry to upgrade, update and modify land combat and protected vehicles, including on-board technologies.
“This will be essential if current and future ADF fleets are to take advantage of the technological evolutions enhancing survivability, situational awareness, lethality and mobility,” the plan states.
Australia seeks to have access to or control over certain elements of each of four vital industrial capabilities, and to support or influence related defence industry investment.
These capabilities comprise (in no particular order of priority or importance) protection technologies; integration, networking and communications; vehicle and systems upgrades; and sustainment.
Within the 2021-2022 timeframe, Defence will improve how it communicates requirements to industry through a wide range of fora including briefings to State government and industry groups, the Land Environment Working Group (LEWG), Land Forces conference, project industry briefings, and specific project-related Australian industry workshops, the plan states.
Further, by the end of 2021 capability-based Land Force Support Models will be developed in collaboration between the Capability Manager (Chief of Army) and CASG in order to optimise proactive investments from both Defence and industry, and streamline activity.
“These support models are designed at Gate 0 and evolved throughout the Capability Life Cycle. Army will continue to work with CASG, Joint Logistics Command and industry to refine these models ahead of finalising capability support arrangements.”
Within the initial three to five years of the plan, the design and development of sensors, autonomous and robotic systems, high-density power supplies, efficient vehicle transmissions, and alternative vehicle track materials was expected to become increasingly common.
Later technology evolutions for industry focus were forecast to include satellite communications on the move, high assurance cryptographic equipment, adaptive networking wideband waveform, and semi-automated context-based distributed information management systems.
Further anticipated areas for industry interest included composite and smart armour solutions for evolving ballistic and blast threats; combined arms teams simulation; and third/fourth generation active protection systems.