• Credit: Lockheed Martin
    Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Australia has completed a Field Capability Demonstration (FCD) of its ‘Agile Shield’ battle management system at the Puckapunyal Military Area in Victoria.

Developed by Lockheed Martin Australia’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Leadership and Research Laboratory (STELaRLab) for Defence, Agile Shield is a Counter Improvised Threat (CIT) detection, neutralisation and mitigation system.

The battle management system was deployed to Puckapunyal, set-up and tested over three weeks, culminating in a series of live environment demonstrations for select Defence personnel.

The FCD included the deployment of a cluster of Agile Shield nodes into a controlled environment targeted by Uninhabited Aerial System (UAS) threats.

“The successful completion of the Field Capability Demonstration represents a critical milestone in the development of this important sovereign Defence capability," said Dr. Tony Lindsay, Director of STELaRLab.

“While the demonstration focused on countering Uninhabited Aerial System threats, the Agile Shield battle management system will empower the Australian Defence Force to respond effectively to the increasingly complex and sophisticated array of improvised threats emerging from across land, air and maritime domains.”

Lockheed Martin Australia was awarded the $9 million contract to develop Agile Shield in 2021 under Defence’s Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge (CIT-GC).

“Agile Shield demonstrates the ability of the Australian Defence, Science and Technology ecosystem to develop an innovative Defence capability to enhance the Australian warfighter," said Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist.

“Employing a mix of sensors and effectors against a suite of Unoccupied Aerial Systems or UAS, the development team successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of the Agile Shield Command and Control System.”

As the prime system integrator, STELaRLab has partnered with Australian small-medium sized enterprises in the design and implementation of the Agile Shield battle management system, including: Clearbox Systems; InTrack Solutions; DroneShield; Department 13; Codarra Advanced Systems; Trakka Corp; and Silentium Defence.

Answering questions at a media briefing, Dr Lindsay disclosed that the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) had originally contributed a significant amount of money to the project - “we’re talking millions for a variety of different reasons”.

A representative of the US Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate had attended the recent field capability demonstration and reportedly viewed what he saw very positively, said Dr Lindsay.

“The thing that was really appealing was the ability to utilise and integrate different sensors and effectors from multiple manufacturers. He was also interested in the threat evaluation and weapon assignment aspects. He’ll brief his people and I guess we’ll hear from them”, Dr Lindsay commented.

Looking to the future, Jeff Vesely, Science Advisor DST Group Edinburgh Land Division, told the briefing this was and always would be subject to what emerged from Defence Strategic Review (DSR) processes.

“Our champion is Army Headquarters, there is a path forwards so it’s a matter of balancing the challenges that they have with what the DSR is directing to Defence”.

According to Brigadier David Westphalen, Senior Military Advisor, DST Group Melbourne Land Division, capability reviews for all three services were underway looking at the sequencing of the capital investment program “and therefore money for things like this particular project”.

“We’re hopeful that given the nature on the threat and our improving understanding of the threat, that this will be seen as an issue that has to be dealt with sooner rather than later”.

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