Turning expectations into reality more quickly

19 March 2024

Senior leaders provided an update on Australia’s accelerated capability development to more than 9000 people who virtually attended Defence’s Capability Symposium on March 13.

Priorities from the 2023 Defence Strategic Review, such as long-range anti-ship, naval-strike and land-based strike missiles, were shown to be progressing, while a fictional scenario describing the ADF’s planned ability to strike targets over hundreds of kilometres showcased the progress of cyber capability. 

Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston said turning the Government’s expectations to reality more quickly is an imperative. 

He said a strategy adopting minimal viable capability was needed. 

“We need to abandon the pursuit of the perfect solution or process and focus on timely and relevant capability delivery, which means delivery to the operators who need it in the shortest possible time,” Vice Admiral Johnston said. 

A more agile capability acquisition system will be backed up by more frequent updates to Defence strategy. 

'We need to abandon the pursuit of the perfect solution or process and focus on timely and relevant capability delivery.'

A new National Defence Strategy document will be released every two years, replacing periodic Defence White Papers.

The first National Defence Strategy is set to be released in coming months and will be the authoritative basis for all Defence planning. 

“The biennial cycle gives us the opportunity to determine where we’re performing well, where we may have been underperforming and what we will do to shift,” Vice Admiral Johnston said. 

“The Government is prepared to make hard decisions to cancel and reprioritise Defence projects and activities when they are now less relevant to the environment in which we find ourselves.” 

Deputy Secretary Defence Strategic Review Implementation Tom Hamilton told the symposium that Defence was making good progress towards delivering a more focused and integrated ADF, capable of responding to increasingly challenging circumstances.

These included:

  • accelerated acquisition of long-range strike capabilities
  • completion of the Surface Combatant Review and announcement of the Government response
  • completion of the Defence Estate Audit
  • key changes to Army’s units and formations as well as changes to Army’s posture
  • critical capability acquisition and sustainment outcomes involving C-130J-30 Hercules aircraft and remote and autonomous systems such as the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.

“Defence is working to simplify and streamline its capability acquisition systems. It is focusing on speed to capability and value for money, coupled with appropriate strategy and policy settings across government to reduce the complexity for industry when working with Defence,” Mr Hamilton said.

More than capable

The winners of the 2024 Vice Chief of the Defence Force Capability Awards were announced at the Capability Symposium. The winners of ADF Group Commendations were:

The Seabed and Subsea Warfare Team: the team's drive resulted in rapid introduction of the Undersea Support Vessel and its associated mission system into service in a constrained timeframe. 

Defence Science and Technology Group’s (DSTG) NAVIGATE team: commended for leading the capability-building NAVIGATE program. Its establishment and management of the program significantly contributed to increasing Defence’s knowledge in high-demand STEM areas, and developing relationships and collaborations in the Defence Innovation Science and Technology ecosystem.

The PERPLEXUS team at DSTG: identified and developed an innovative solution to a Defence and national security classified capability requirement which contributes to the safety of personnel in those areas, as well as the courage to allow international experts review their ground-breaking work. 

Utility Helicopter Project Office/Systems Program Office: rapid delivery of the initial UH-60M Black Hawk capability substantially contributed to the Defence mission for Project LAND4507-1 MRH Rapid Replacement. The team’s timely achievement of airworthiness approvals and establishing support systems enabled flying operations to commence within two years of the project’s inception. 

Directorate of Jericho Disruptive Innovation: exploited novel concepts and emerging technologies to develop and quickly deliver advanced asymmetric prototypes, while working in a complex environment. 

A combined CASG and JCG integrated project team: commended for superior achievements in delivering Joint Project 9103 – Protected Military Satellite Communications. As a result of its efforts, Defence has realised a significant improvement in the way Navy platforms communicate and operate at sea. 



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