Thursday, August 16, 2007

Defence Future Capability Technology Centre

The Australian Defence and Education departments are funding a "Defence Future Capability Technology Centre" (DFCTC) to work on defence research projects with industry and universities from mid 2008. Applications for participation close on 14 September 2007.

The centre will be similar to the existing Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) run by the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). There will be $30m funding over 7 years from the Commonwealth. There was no mention of National ICT Australia (NICTA) in the announcement, it might provide a useful model for research and has programs in Defence related areas underway.

Themes for DFCTC are:
  1. Integrated Battlespace and Systems Integration: technologies to enhance situation awareness, decision support tools, information assurance, management, and representation, robust and high capacity communication networks, including network centric capabilities; human factors and the human-machine interface, identity management and continuous tracking, complex systems modelling and simulation; applicable to the air, surface, underwater and land environments.
  2. Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Defence: CBRNE defence technologies encompass a wide spectrum of science applied to new and emerging threats to national security; including CT. CBRNE includes technologies to detect and defeat CBRNE threats, effects mitigation, bio-threat countermeasures, personnel protection systems, diagnostic and adaptive systems, casualty prevention and management.
  3. Autonomous Systems and Robotics: unmanned air, ground, surface and underwater vehicle systems, including networks of autonomous systems in complex environments, cooperative behaviour, sensor-to-effector connectivity, micro-sensor and mobile energy source technology. Defence applications provide for enhanced surveillance and force projection while reducing manpower requirements and exposure to hazardous environments.
  4. Materials Sciences: active and high-temperature materials, micro- and nano-technology, micro-engineered mechanical structures (MEMs), advanced armour, smart and interactive material systems, organic electronics, photonics. Applications of materials sciences to Defence capability may reduce power and weight requirements, increase protection, increase durability and enhance operational effectiveness of people and platforms.
  5. Electronic Warfare Self Protection: platform tailored solutions incorporating multi-spectral capability, electronic support versus electronic attack; integration with other sensors and existing and planned command and control systems; able to operate autonomously in disparate environments, and exploiting new materials capabilities.
  6. High Energy Electromagnetics: high energy lasers, microwaves, and electromagnetic pulse weapons, including enabling technologies such as power supplies, command and control, battlefield safety, mobility and protection. Applications include lethal and non-lethal weapons. ...
Adapted from: "Innovation Drives Future Defence Capability - Defence Future Capability Technology Centre", DSTO, 14 August 2007
Much of this research, such as that on explosives, electronic warfare and electromagnetics will be defence specific, but the other areas have commercial application. As an example, technologies for battlespace management are similar to those used in business, particularly with the adoption of common Internet and web tools. Recently I suggested that containerized "smart rooms" could be tested as outback classrooms, before being deployed in 2012 on the new amphibious ships HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide. Robotic systems for the ships are also applicable to industry applications as well as the military.

See also:
ps: In 1999, just after leaving the Defence Department I gave a speech proposing that Australian defence research should be contracted out, much the same way it is in the USA and there should be more work on web based command and control. This was well received by the MPs and a Cabinet Minister present. The Department Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) responded with a media release criticizing the proposal. But it is good to see Defence has now adopted much of my suggestion, including some of the areas for research.

No comments: