Army hosted its fourth annual Innovation Day at ADFA in Canberra on Monday with this year's theme being ‘Novel Weapons and Novel Effects’.
The event comprised 19 companies from Australia, the US, Europe and Israel presenting 25 industry proposals. A range of new technologies including UAS and counter-UAS (CUAS) systems, weapon and ammunition enhancements, electronic counter measures and electronic warfare, and simulation systems were showcased during the day.
On the CUAS front, DefendTex offered their Drone-40 CUAS derivative. Equipped with a synthetic aperture radar, it can track, engage, and classify UAS targets out to 350 metres following launch from the existing SL-40 launcher in a point and shoot configuration. It is equipped with soft (high tensile fabric fired into rotors/propellers) and hard (air burst detonation up to 10 metres from the target) kill options.
MySky suggested the same technology curve that delivered the battlefield UAS be utilised to bring in the next generation of countermeasure.
“We propose the best way to get rid of a high prevalence, low cost drone is with a high prevalence low cost drone,” spokesperson Steve Auch-Schwelk said. The MySky CUAS system is man portable, field deployable, low cost kinetic effects ‘drone killer’ utilising an array of sensors to seek and destroy its target by flying into rotors or jet engines at a speed of 250 kilometres per hour.
UAS manufacturer Silvertone pitched the Flamingo Mk.III which represents a 65 per cent increase in payload volume from its predecessor and offers flexibility with component and payload layout; its high aerodynamic efficiency also allows it operate with smaller engines than those usually found in a four-metre UAS, reducing fuel requirements and improving endurance.
QinetiQ Australia demonstrated its conformal antenna technology which allows the design and manufacture of bespoke, low profile, custom shaped antennas that can be part of any structure without loss of performance. Compatible with armoured materials, the structure of any platform can be used to gain improvements in bandwidth and gain - for example UAS wings, a panel on an armoured vehicle, helicopter blades and even a soldier's helmet.
Thales Australia touted the Smash F-90, an improved version of the Enhanced F-88 currently in ADF service coupled with the Smart Shooter or Smash weapons sight. This is basically a fire control system linked through a reflex sight, providing an improved firing solution for the shooter. A demonstration to Army, Navy and Air Force last week had been well received and Thales is committed to integrate the solution at its own cost into the EF-88 for trial in 2018.
Techventure Investments proposed ballistics improvements for ammunition that could increase speed and range without altering propellant, cartridges, or the firearms themselves. The CoreTech technology, which redistributes the inner mass of the projectile to provide improved stability, is scaleable across calibres and is suitable for both handgun and rifle configurations.
Other products demonstrated were a laser weapon from Rheinmetall, a passive radar system from Silentium Defence, a combat electromagnetic effects system from Acteon, an antenna concealment solution from PTSA, and high hardened steel body armour from DefendTex.
In summation and on behalf of Head Land Capability, Major General Kath Toohey, Army director general Modernisation Brigadier Chris Mills said there had been a massive improvement in the quality of proposals that had been pitched during the day.
“With the establishment of the Defence Innovation Hub on 5th December last year, for the first time we've trialled using the hub as the main point of entry for the industry proposals. So we've put the challenge out to industry via a special notice and then used their assistance to refine the responses.”
He added a ‘shark tank’ process had been required to reduce the pool from 60 to 25.
“Congratulations for making it this far and thank you for the time, effort and money spent to get here; the quality of proposals far surpasses anything we have seen before ... because of the quality of the submissions given we owe you some very detailed consideration,” BRIG Mills said.