March 2009: Australia’s CTD Program Boosts 4 Tech Projects
Research and Development is essential to any national technology base, and to the health of its defense industrial base. The USA is a global research leader, and some of its efforts have created international infrastructure – like the internet. In other cases, it has been a matter of adapting existing civilian research like low-power, flexible displays for military use. For smaller nations like Canada, Australia, et. al. R&D budgets are smaller, and so funded research must be more focused.
Australia’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Extension Program aims to take existing DSTO research projects to higher maturity levels for operational./ commercial evaluation, in a manner similar to the USA’s SBIR Phase III awards. Australia’s Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowden recently announced 4 winners in this area:
The electronic warfare specialists at Avalon Systems Pty Ltd’s missile detection system, designed to provide ships with additional warning time. In an era of supersonic cruise missiles, that can offer 45 seconds or less from the moment they break the radar horizon until the moment the hit the ship, every second counts. Further development will move this technology forward to land and sea trials.
Sentient Pty Ltd has reportedly developed a high-definition, real-time vision system for unmanned aerial vehicles that can track small moving targets on the ground. That has obvious uses in the current war, but Australia needs the capability extended to the maritime environment as well. Hence the additional funding.
GKN Aerospace demonstrated a system for reducing the infrared emissions from aircraft and helicopter engines. In a world where IRST detection is becoming common on fighters, and shoulder-fired infrared missiles are a serious threat to helicopters, the uses are obvious. The global field is crowded, but there’s always room for a new and improved approach, and GKN has the relationships to globalize any technology successes. The additional funding will support full-scale development and testing of a prototype.
Deakin University developed an intelligent robot that allows remote operators to ‘feel’ the physical environment where the robot is operating. That has all kinds of obvious uses, in a fast-growing global field. The funds will help the university refine this haptic system.
Together, the 4 projects have attracted A$ 13 million in funding (about $8.6 million). Australian DoD release.