Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today released two Priority Industry Capability (PIC) Health Checks.
“There are no more important skills than those contained within our Priority Industry Capabilities – they are the capabilities that we can't do without,” Mr Clare said.
“Last year I announced that the Defence Materiel Organisation would conduct health checks on each of the PICs.”
Six PIC Fact Sheets have already been released for:
- Infantry Weapons – 5 September 2011;
- Ship Dry Docking and Common User Facilities – 5 September 2011;
- Combat Clothing – 1 February 2012;
- Acoustic Technologies and Systems – 1 February 2012;
- Signature Management – 21 February 2012; and
- Through-life and Real-Time Support of Mission and Safety Critical Software – 21 February 2012.
Mr Clare today released two more health checks - In-Service Support of the Collins Class Combat System (CCCS) and Electronic Warfare (EW).
Priority Industry Capabilities identify elements of broader industry capabilities that confer an essential strategic advantage by being resident in Australia and which, if not available, would undermine defence self-reliance and Australian Defence Force operational capability.
PICs are defined in terms of industrial capabilities rather than specific companies and, ideally, healthy PICs should function without any special form of Government subsidy or intervention in the market.
“The health checks are an important tool for assessing the capacity of Industry, the forecast demands of the Australian Defence Force and any Defence or Government intervention that might be necessary,” Mr Clare said.
“The findings of these health checks will feed into the development of the 2013 Defence White Paper.”
The health checks were undertaken following consultation with an extensive range of Industry and Defence stakeholders.
In-Service Support of the Collins Class Combat System (CCCS)
This PIC has important implications for the effective operation of Australia’s submarine fleet.
It focuses on the ability of Australian-based companies and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) to assist in developing, upgrading, modifying and maintaining aspects of the on-board computer hardware and software which allow Collins Class submarines to identify a military threat and apply appropriate countermeasures.
“The health check has found that the health of the PIC, now and in the foreseeable future, is satisfactory and that no special or unusual forms of assistance to industry or DSTO are required,” Mr Clare said.
The health check found that certain elements were critical to the health of the PIC including:
- The ability of industry to attract and retain suitably qualified engineers and technicians;
- Contractual certainty for companies to allow them to invest in staff training;
- The ability to integrate the CCCS with the submarines’ platform and its ancillary systems; and
- The capacity of DSTO to engage in various forms of CCCS development and evaluation.
The health check recommends that - given the high dependency of Defence on a very small number of Australian-based companies - the position of the companies involved in the CCCS should be monitored closely.
Electronic Warfare (EW)
This PIC has important implications for the development, testing, installation and upgrade within Australia of a range of electronic warfare systems, primarily through the combined efforts of both Defence and local industry.
“The health check has found that while the health of the PIC is satisfactory, a number of measures can be taken by Defence to further support domestic industry,” Mr Clare said.
It also found that, in recent years, a number of factors have pushed Australia towards a heavy and increasing reliance on EW equipment produced overseas, these include:
- the ADF’s desire to strengthen interoperability and data exchange with allies;
- the very high costs and risks of EW equipment development; and
- a growing tendency for major weapons platforms to be designed and supplied with EW systems as integral components rather than options to be added—potentially from domestic sources—at a later date.
The health check recommended:
- Providing Australian-based companies with proven EW expertise with preferential access to Defence’s existing range of industry assistance programs, especially those relating to industry innovation; and
- Defence look at establishing a Masters level university course in Electronic Warfare in Australia, with attendees drawn from both Defence and Industry.
Steps are already underway within Defence to more closely integrate PICs with Defence’s range of grants programs for industry in the areas of skilling, innovation and market development.
Factsheets that provide a summary of the findings of the health checks are available at http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/id/pic/
Annie Williams 0428 040 522