The Australian government has identified nine strategies, designed to help Australian industry meet the requirements of its national defence forces, in a draft defence industry policy released for comment in early December.

The strategies include implementing a strategic approach to equipping and sustaining the Australian Defence Force (ADF) maintaining priority for local industry capabilities creating opportunities for Australian firms supporting the development of skills in the defence industry facilitating defence exports and driving innovation in defence technology.

The policy is the result of a broad consultation process with Australian industry on defence industry policy and implementation. New guidelines are required as a number of developments have affected the defence industry since the Defence and Industry Strategic Policy Statement was issued eight years ago, says the government. These include an increased investment in defence, more operational campaigns and reforms to the procurement process.

The ADF will introduce several new capabilities within the next few years, including Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters and Boeing 737-based airborne early-warning and control aircraft. The government notes that while many of these systems will come from overseas suppliers, local industry will be required to support the new equipment. "Local industry will have to meet the challenge of maintaining an ADF that is growing in size, diversity and complexity," it says.

Among the initiatives the government proposes to implement is the development of a new Australian Industry Capability programme that will identify opportunities for local industry. It also intends to encourage defence technology innovation by pooling research from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, universities and industry along the lines of co-operative research centres. Also, a defence export unit will be created within the Department of Defence to pursue foreign sales.

Source: Flight International