The Department of Defence is increasing its technical capabilities, announcing a major boost for the Defence Innovation Hub, and funding 3D printer technology to create weapons of the future.

Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, last week pledged $5.3 million to go towards five new innovation contracts, including a $2.3 million contract for a new project that uses laser technology to detect low intensity signals.

“Providing our troops with the latest in innovative defence technologies will ensure we remain resilient to these threats, and our defence industry plays a crucial part in helping us achieve this,” Pyne said.

“The Defence Innovation Hub is a key initiative of the Turnbull government bringing industry and Defence together to undertake collaborative innovation activities from concept through to introduction into service.”

The Defence Innovation Hub was launched in 2016 as part of the Defence Industry Policy Statement, with the aim to help develop and scale early stage technologies that have been identified to have an appropriate defence application.

At the time of its inception, it was said the scheme would deliver $640 million towards new projects over the next decade.

One of recipients of this round of funding is ACT-based Nova Systems.

It received a $779,000 contract from the Hub to go toward the development of high-speed, unmanned Mobile Target Systems that can be used as targets to represent real operational scenarios.

“This is an exciting project for our innovation team,” said Group Chief of Capability & Strategy at Nova Systems, Nick Kemp.

“We have put a lot of thought into adapting commercially available all-terrain vehicles, for unmanned applications.

“This option could provide Defence a low cost, expendable, high speed option that enhances their operational training and testing.”

3D printing partnership

Continuing the theme of innovating the Department of Defence, Pyne has also announced a new research partnership to advance 3D printing capabilities.

The deal will see the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) join defence research company, DefendTex, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Flinders University and Cranfield University (UK).

The project will investigate how 3D printing can improve the safety and performance of explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics.

“This research could lead to the production of advanced weapons systems, which can be tailored for unique performance and purpose,” said Pyne.

“It should also allow broader access and more efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing opportunities to Australian industry providing significant cost savings and competitive advantage for Defence, and industries such as mining construction.”

$2.6 million has been pledged to the partnership over the next two years.