• Australian Army soldier Lance Corporal Davide Sargeant, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, views the PD-100 Nano air vehicle at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. Credit: Defence
    Australian Army soldier Lance Corporal Davide Sargeant, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, views the PD-100 Nano air vehicle at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. Credit: Defence

In the lead up to Army’s second Innovation Day, scheduled for October 19 at Canberra’s ADFA campus, ADM spoke to the coordinator of last year’s event to understand what this Army initiative is about.

Katherine Ziesing | Canberra

“The Innovation Day is about Army approaching industry to develop its understanding of potential opportunities to enhance capability – in both the immediate and longer time frames,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Tim Rutherford, the SO1 Surveillance and Reconnaissance in Army Headquarters.

“The 2014 Innovation Day had an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) focus. The ISR field is very much enabled by technology. Indeed, the field has experienced some significant advances over the past few years. If Army’s ISR is to remain technologically relevant, Army needs to be involved with industry in the ISR technology conversation.

“So, we did our research, told industry what we wanted and then invited a select group to demonstrate their capabilities to a group of high-level experts and decision makers within Army, including the-then Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning – Army (HMSP-A), Major General Jeff Sengelman.

This demonstration by industry was titled the Army Innovation Day.”

Unlike trade shows, the 2014 Army Innovation Day allowed each ISR capability to be demonstrated sequentially, so all industry representatives received the audience’s undivided attention for half of the day. The second half of the day was reserved for Major General Sengelman to lead a discussion on the suitability and potential of the ‘exemplar’ capabilities and which, if any, Army might like to progress to trial.

The technologies showcased during the 2014 Innovation Day included a parachutable camera from Thales; the Skyranger, Mil-spec quadcopter, from Aeryon; the PD-100 Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Aerial System (NUAS) from Prox; the WASP Small Unmanned Aerial System (SUAS) from AeroVironment and an undisclosed precision beyond line sight, lethal capability.

“Each of the capabilities demonstrated had the potential to provide Army with a genuine ISR advantage,” Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford said, “but, it is worth noting, these were, and remain, exemplar systems, not necessarily the final solution. They’re designed to illustrate what Army could do to progress its land-based ISR capability.”

"Unlike trade shows, the 2014 Army Innovation Day allowed each ISR capability to be demonstrated sequentially."

Following the 2014 Innovation Day, Army received feedback from a number of attendees and other stakeholders on the systems deemed suitable for trial/evaluation. In line with this feedback, the Army equipped elements of the Brisbane-based 7th Brigade, the Darwin-based Regional Force Surveillance Unit NORFORCE and special forces units with the PD-100 Black Hornet NUAS, and the WASP AE SUAS.

These systems were evaluated during Exercises Hamel and Talisman Sabre in July. Other evaluation activities are also planned throughout the latter half of 2015. The systems arrived in May this year and training has begun on them, including the Wasp.

Outcomes from the evaluation will be presented at the Army ISR working group in October 2015.

“The working group is a new forum that was created to develop enterprise positions on the development of future ISR capabilities. It is chaired by the Director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance – Army,” Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford explained. “We will be in a better position to talk about long-term solutions at this working group.”

Army’s Innovation Day for 2015 will focus on Enhancing Human Performance of land combatants. Human Factors, a broad church of capabilities, can include, but are not limited to:
• Immersive and Adaptive Training Technologies
• Nutrition Technology for the Tiered combatants. This includes foods, ergogenic aids (for example caffeine gum etc) and ration pack technology.
• Load Sharing Equipment for the Tier 2 Dismounted combatant.
• Individual Physiological State Monitoring Technology (health and wellbeing).
• Cultural and language trainers.

According to Director General Modernisation–Army, Brigadier Shane Gabriel, “constantly seeking to enhance human performance is central to all of Army’s modernisation efforts. Indeed, our foremost modernisation focus is to prepare the soldier physically, mentally and technically to be ready and relevant.”

This rationale is echoed by Army’s lead for Human Performance initiatives, Lieutenant Colonel Corey Shillabeer.
“Army’s Human Performance modernisation vision is that our people, as individuals and teams, outsmart, outperform and outlast a lethal, agile, adaptable and well-connected adversary in an increasingly challenging and complex operational environment.”

As a consequence of Army’s increasing focus on enhancing human performance, the 2015 Innovation Day will seek to increase Army’s understanding of current and emerging capabilities that will enable combatants to outsmart, outperform and recover more quickly than current or future adversaries.

It is anticipated that industry demonstration at the 2015 Innovation Day will inform Army about its immediate and future options in this high priority modernisation effort.

The Army Headquarters point of contact for the 2015 Innovation Day is Major Pierre Pel. He can be contacted at Pierre.Pel@defence.gov.au for more information.

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