Updated 24/04 0840
Defence has chosen Queensland veteran-owned company EPE for ongoing support of new deployable Weapons Technical Intelligence (WTI) forensic laboratories.
These are containerised facilities containing laboratory equipment to analyse improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other weapons to develop countermeasures and better protection for Australian troops.
The need for a specific in-theatre weapons technical intelligence capability was initially recognised in Afghanistan where insurgents made extensive use of IEDs to target troops and vehicles.
Examination of the after effects of IED explosions – the so-called big smoking hole – and recovered IEDs produced a wide range of useful information.
That could indicate how the bombs were constructed, their method of initiation, any new technology and sometimes even identify the bombmaker. Examination of their effect on people and vehicles could indicate what protective measures worked and where improvements were needed.
IEDs proved so effective and simple to manufacture that the ADF anticipates they will be encountered in most or all future conflicts.
EPE said the WTI capability delivered under project Land 154 Phase 2 would improve Defence’s joint counter-IED response, providing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with the ability to independently deploy a purpose-built facility.
“The project will support a new sovereign capability – raised, trained, maintained and sustained in Australia, and create new technical jobs, develop local expertise and leverage partnerships with Australian owned subcontractors,” the company said.
EPE’s WTI Project Director Keith Mollison, said the distinct skillsets of our military veteran team allowed EPE to bring a unique combination of Weapons Technical Intelligence experts, Project Management expertise and specialist maintenance technicians to support this key capability.
The new labs are based at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane and in Adelaide at DSTG Edinburgh.
Indra Australia was selected to design and manufacture the deployable facilities in a deal worth $36 million.
Assistant Secretary of Defence Electromagnetic Warfare and Intelligence Systems Alex Rothwell said the laboratories provided a safe environment for soldiers, sailors and airmen working with explosive devices even when deployed.
“This level of support demonstrates a new level of collaboration between Defence and industry in supporting this advanced and complex capability,” he said.
Mr Rothwell said support and maintenance to the laboratories would be based out of Brisbane and Adelaide, creating up to 15 full-time specialist technical positions for EPE.
Support of the laboratories will also require engagement with a range of local businesses for maintenance and repair.