Business Bulletin, 6 August 2021

By Leo D’Angelo Fisher

Top stories:

  • Babcock-UniSA partnership targets soldier of the future

  • Space start-up boosts advisory board

  • Lockheed and Northrop vie for missile defence contract

Babcock-UniSA partnership targets soldier of the future

Engineering and technology services company Babcock Australasia and the University of South Australia (UniSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop “best of breed” technology for the Australian Army’s LAND125 Phase 4 Integrated Soldier System (ISS).

The MoU will open up opportunities for Adelaide-based Babcock and UniSA to collaborate on technology development, postgraduate research and graduate programs.

Babcock Australasia’s head of business development, Mick Burgess, says Babcock’s partnership with UniSA “strengthens our commitment to research and development being conducted in Australia in areas that will generate the best outcome for Defence”.

“As a result of the MoU, Babcock will able to leverage key research being undertaken by UniSA for LAND125 Phase 4 in the areas of human factors, cognitive and systems neuroscience, interactive and virtual environments and advances in wearable computing and displays,” Mr Burgess says.

“These and other research areas will contribute strongly to the spiral development of technologies and their use by the future Australian soldier.”

UniSA’s director of defence and space, Matt Opie, says the MoU with Babcock reflects the university’s “end-user focused” approach to research.

“This partnership is an excellent example of how UniSA works closely with the defence industry to meet its needs, help solve the challenges it faces and deliver tangible and practical outcomes,” Mr Opie says.

“The research we are undertaking in neuroscience, wearable computers, virtual and interactive technology and the human factors involved in defence will all help develop the ideal systems for Australian soldiers.”

Ensuring that Australian soldiers are armed with the “latest disruptive advances in modern warfare”, LAND125 Phase 4’s ISS will integrate all elements and subsystems that are used, worn or carried by soldiers in any operational context or environment.

Space start-up boosts advisory board

Space transportation and logistics company Space Machines Company (SMC) has appointed four prominent defence and aerospace leaders to its advisory board as the Sydney-based start-up looks to global expansion.

With extensive experience in a range of crucial areas of space exploration the advisers will play an integral role in guiding SMC on the commercialisation of its technology.

The four appointments are: Terry Van Haren, former RAAF commander and Australian air and space attaché to the United States in Washington DC and currently president of Leolabs Australia; Peter Nikoloff, executive director and co-founder of aerospace engineering firm Nova Group; Donna Lawler, principal of space law firm Azimuth Advisory; and space scientist Professor Phil Bland, director of the Space Science and Technology Centre at Perth’s Curtin University.

SMC co-founder and CEO Rajat Kulshrestha says the calibre of the new advisers “is a testament to the strength and vision of Australia's growing space industry”.

"They all share our unwavering commitment to enabling space mobility with a transportation network that powers our future in space as well as advancing Australia's sovereign capability in space technology,” Mr Kulshrestha says.

Commenting on his appointment, Terry Van Haren says SMC is “paving a way to create co-operative opportunities within the [space] industry”.

“The key to success for space safety and security is co-operation between government departments, space agencies and the commercial industry within Australia and around the globe,” he says.

SMC specialises in developing in-space transportation capabilities to insert small satellites into low earth orbits, geostationary earth orbits and lunar orbits. The company is currently preparing for the launch of its Optimus-1 orbital transport “space courier” in 2022.

Lockheed and Northrop vie for missile defence contract

Defence contractors Lockheed Martin Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia will progress to the final stage of the competitive evaluation process for the Royal Australian Air Force’s new $2.7 billion Joint Air Battle Management System.

The Joint Air Battle Management System will provide the core architecture of the Australian Defence Force’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defence capability.

The system will deliver the capability to defend against advanced air and missile threats, connect “ships, aircraft and other capabilities together in a way that multiplies their defensive power” and give the ADF increased levels of interoperability with coalition partners.

Boeing Defence Australia and Raytheon Australia, which participated in the first stage of the competitive evaluation process, will continue to be involved in developing the Joint Air Battle Management System and supporting the Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program.

The successful partner for the Joint Air Battle Management System is expected to be announced in late 2023.

Leo D'Angelo Fisher is a regular columnist and Editor-at-Large at Australian Veteran News. Connect with him on Twitter: @DAngeloFisher.

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