In areas of Afghanistan, insurgents have been using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as their weapon of choice against both the Australian Defence Force and its coalition partners. In response to this challenge, Defence’s Counter-IED Task Force sponsored the Redwing programme to meet an identified need of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) was tasked to develop unique, low-cost, robust and lightweight force protection counter-IED systems. DSTO designed the systems to meet the challenging requirements set by the task force, including intended use by Afghan military and police units in austere operating environments, with minimal operator training and limited logistical support.
DSTO was able to produce the pre-production prototypes in only a few months, thanks to its deep technical expertise and scientific knowledge of the threat environment developed through many years of investment in counter-IED research and development programmes.
Two devices were developed to defeat specific classes of persistent remote-controlled IED threats: the Greengum version for use by dismounted elements and the Greygum version for fitting to light vehicles. Prototypes were initially developed by DSTO’s Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division and were field-tested both locally and internationally. Due to extremely tight delivery schedules, pre-production prototypes were then developed and tested by DSTO’s Scientific Engineering Services in readiness for their immediate mass production.
The Australian Military Sales Office coordinated with DSTO and a number of Australian companies for the mass production of both types of devices, with DSTO acting as the technical authority during production. Based on sales to Afghanistan, millions of dollars were invested into Australian industry, resulting in more than 100,000 units being manufactured over an accelerated five-month production schedule. These units have now all been delivered to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and are being deployed across the country.
At a press conference in mid-June, the Minister for Defence, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP, announced the delivery of the counter-IED equipment to Afghanistan.
‘Australia was very pleased to provide these force protection systems to the Afghan forces as they work to ensure the security of the Afghan people’, Mr Andrews said.
This project has been an excellent example of the close collaboration between a number of Defence teams and Australian industry partners in successfully transitioning innovative DSTO technology from concept phase to production, resulting in the delivery of a life-saving capability.