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Defence unveils plan to bolster cyber resilience

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has published the latest sovereign capability implementation plans, outlining key priorities for the delivery of surveillance, intelligence and advanced signal processing capability.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has published the latest sovereign capability implementation plans, outlining key priorities for the delivery of surveillance, intelligence and advanced signal processing capability.

The Department of Defence has released its latest implementation plans for its Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities —Surveillance and Intelligence, and Advanced Signal Processing.  

This forms part of the government’s Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan announced earlier this year, which aims to build a “robust, resilient and internationally competitive” Australian defence industry. 

Capability priorities

The Surveillance and Intelligence plan outlines seven critical industrial capabilities, which Defence seeks to gain access to or control over:

  • the development and retention of a highly skilled workforce;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of active and passive high frequency sensors for long-range persistent air and maritime surveillance;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of integrated sensor networks for persistent surveillance of space objects and phenomena;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of integrated orbital sensor networks for Earth observation;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of big data processing and exploitation, dissemination, and presentation algorithms and software;
  • the integration of tactical sensor and persistent surveillance technologies operating at multiple security levels into ADF and Five Eyes command, control, communications, computing, and intelligence (C4I) systems; and
  • the design, development, modification, and upgrade of software and hardware that enable secure communication across the Joint Force.

Meanwhile, the five key priorities identified for the Advanced Signal Processing plan include: 

  • the development and retention of a highly skilled workforce;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of advanced digital signal processing algorithms and software for radar, electronic warfare, imaging, and sonar sensors;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of sensor fusion and real-time data processing, exploitation, dissemination and presentation algorithms and software;
  • the design, development, and sustainment of integrated hardware and software solutions to reduce the electronic and digital signatures of military platforms, reducing the likelihood of detection and identification by an adversary’s sensors; and
  • the integration of tactical sensor hardware and software with host platforms, other sensors and control systems.

Implementation process

To achieve these objectives, Defence aims to build the following capabilities over the next decade:

  • a skilled and security cleared workforce of software and systems engineers, data scientists and software developers;
  • sector agility to continually update and upgrade the critical systems and technologies underpinning signal processing capabilities
  • secure collaboration infrastructure that reduces cost-of-entry barriers for businesses seeking to enter the defence market by providing shared access to accredited secure facilities and computer networks; and
  • data access for trusted Australian industry partners — particularly threat and operational intelligence data — and other technical information to facilitate capability solutions for the ADF.

To implement the plan, Defence has delegated specific responsibilities to stakeholders across the industry, including the Joint Capabilities Group, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, the Strategic Policy and Industry Group, Industry Policy Group, and the Australian Space Agency.

The implementation process is expected to begin next year with the development of a strategy to establish a partnership, which provides local industry with accredited communications security (COMSEC) support to Defence.

Minister Price said these latest plans underscore the importance of the information and cyber domain in the modern battlespace.

“This will become increasingly important as the character of warfare evolves,” she said. 

“The 2020 Force Structure Plan committed $15 billion over the next decade to information and cyber capabilities. 

“To develop and deliver these capabilities, we require a highly-skilled and secure Australian workforce.”

Minister Price added, “Businesses in adjacent sectors are strongly encouraged to consider opportunities in these areas. 

“Skills in software engineering, data analytics and specialised electronics engineering play a key role in building sovereign defence industry capability.” 

The release of these latest roadmaps follows the publication of the Combat Clothing, and the Munitions and Small Arms plans in December 2019, the Land Combat and Protected Vehicles plan in August 2020, and the Aerospace Platform Deeper Maintenance and Structural Integrity Implementation and Enhanced Active Phased Array and Passive Radar Capability plans in November.  

[Related: Plan to enhance sovereign radar capability unveiled]

Defence unveils plan to bolster cyber resilience
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