Did you know that Australia spends $105 million / day on Defence? The US Air Force spends eight times more than that and that basically gives you a clue on the current state of Australia’s defence industry.
The global pandemic brought a great pause in the industry and the Australian government is gearing to do something about it. The following are notable updates in the Australian defence industry this year:
1. Andrew Liveris is pushing for an on-shoring era. He wants the defence industry to be highlighted.
Andrew Liveris is currently a member of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission. He is a former chief at Dow Chemical and is considered an outstanding business leader. He is currently pushing for an on-shoring agenda. He sees the need for Australia to improve its local manufacturing capacity. He sees the defence industry as a vital sector of the economy that needs to play a big part in the on-shoring era. He wants to boost the health, cyber, and defence sectors.
2. The Hawkei Project is still a go. Now on its Phase 4.
This $2 billion project is set to provide 1,100 light protected vehicles to the Air Force and Army. All 1,100 units were built in Australia. The project recently reached a milestone as it is now on Phase 4 and with Initial Operational Capability approval. All Hawkei units are set to be fully operational by 2023. These lighter vehicles will provide boosted protection from ballistic threats and blasts. This project is a stellar example of how Australia’s defence industry can fully provide for the nation’s needs. This strongly supports the push for the on-shoring of Australia’s defence supplies. The light vehicles were all manufactured in Victoria. Its design and built are 100% Australian. This project is providing employment to so many. The last issue that the design has encountered lies in its brakes. It has since been resolved.
3. Attack-class submarines are still being built.
This project is still a go. It is by far the most complex and largest defence project in Australian history. It is estimated to cost more or less $90 billion. 12 submarines are set to replace Australia’s Collins-class submarines. All submarines are expected to be in service by the 2030s. Construction is expected to last until 2050. The Attack-class submarines has the following features:
- Weapon rack that can carry two mines
- FG29 mines
- SCALP missiles with over 1,000 km range
- Anti-ship missiles with 50 km range
- Heavy torpedoes
- Land attack cruise missile
Attack-class submarines were made to effectively act against armed forces. Its design is best suited for Australia’s unique ocean conditions and climate. Similar to Colins-class submarines, Attack-class submarines are not nuclear.
4. MQ-4C Triton Program is on pause.
The program is on pause for two years. This is due to the production pause announced by the US Navy in early 2020. The pause is partly because of Trump’s budget cuts. The first aircraft was set to arrive last year.
This program is important because it will allow the Royal Australia Force to remotely pilot persistent maritime surveillance. All surveillance units are expected to be operational by 2025 despite the pause.
The stark scenario with the delay shows just how highly dependent Australia is on the US to this day. Australia has yet to fully develop high-end weapon systems on its own shores. This is exactly why Liveris finds it beneficial for Australia to push for on-shoring. This is also why Bend-tech Defence is going all out in boosting its research and development department.
5. Australia will still be reliant on the US for years to come when it comes to its major defence needs.
As it stands, Australia will still be highly reliant on the US for the majority of its defence needs for years to come. This is why there is a great need for Australia’s defence industry to level up. It may seem challenging but there is so much that can be done even if Australia’s defense policy does not seem ready for massive on-shoring of defense manufacturing. The US will always prioritize America’s needs before any country. It’s time for Australia’s defence industry to beef up.
Australia’s defence industry should go big on research and development. This is the most powerful way to boost its on-shoring capacity. Experts view that the defence industry should focus on:
- Technology for optimization of human performance
- Design solutions for optimization of human performance
- Technology for information management
- Design solutions for information management
- Precision engineering
- Artificial intelligence
Experts highly advise defence industry players to focus on big ideas and not on the building of massive equipment. Australia is greatly in need of innovative ideas that can easily be turned into superb physical systems.
If you’re a player in the defence industry, you should choose to invest in research and development. Australian defence industry players need to stop being just sustainment, assembly, and integration providers. Defence industry players should focus on developing teams that fully understand Australia’s unique terrains and solely engage in solving problems.
The next industrial revolution will not be as resource intensive. It will highly involve artificial intelligence and computer-aided activities. The Australian defence industry can get in on this without waiting for any deal, policy, or country. The time to look forward is now. The future of Australia’s defence capacity now strongly lies in the hands of private research and development teams of dedicated players in its local defence industry.