Australia — Government and Defence industry work together on soldier protection

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. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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