Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced the Government would contribute more than $9 million toward research for the protection of soldiers of the Australian Defence Force.
Along with the Government contribution, industry will provide around $11 million in funding and in-kind contributions.
The project is a partnership between the Government, Defence industry and prominent research organisations.
The project aims to improve the protective equipment that soldiers wear to combat a range of existing and evolving threats, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
It will develop, test and evaluate prototypes of new equipment in order to:
- improve ballistic, blast and flash protection;
- improve head, face and eye protection;
- decrease weight and bulk of protective systems;
- reduce blunt trauma that can occur behind armour;
- reduce the risk of a soldier being detected; and
- improve protection from fire, chemical, biological and radiological threats.
The Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) will lead the team with support from research organisations like the University of Wollongong and RMIT. DMTC was established in 2008 to develop cutting-edge technology to improve Defence equipment.
Confirmed and likely industry partners include Australian Defence Apparel, Ballistic and Mechanical Testing, Bruck Textiles, Tectonica, Pacific Engineering Systems International and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing. Several other companies have also expressed interest in participating in the program.
The research team will also work with the Army’s specialist team of soldiers who have recently returned from Afghanistan, known as Diggerworks.
This additional investment comes on top of the $1.6 billion the Australian Government has invested in enhanced force protection measures, including:
- The new TBAS lighter combat body armour;
- Heavier calibre weapons and extra protective armour on the Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles;
- Attaching mine rollers to the front of Bushmaster to roll ahead of the vehicle to take the impact of an IED explosion;
- The delivery of the Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar early sense and warn system; and
- New handheld mine detectors.
“Threats faced by our soldiers are always changing and the equipment they use has to keep evolving to meet these new threats,” Mr Clare said.
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