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Systems integrators the quiet achievers

combat systems operator
Seaman Combat Systems Operator Tayla Maher on watch as the surface operator aboard HMAS Warramunga during Exercise KAKADU 2016. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

Supporting Defence’s missions is the overarching common goal of primes and SMEs across all Defence acquisition and sustainment projects, but providers of the crucial back end technology are often the unsung heroes.

Christine Zeitz, managing director of Leidos Australia, spoke with Defence Connect about the defence and technology company's contribution to the Australian defence and security industry, its evolving nature and the relationship between prime and customer.

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"The relationships that I have across our customer community are very deep," Zeitz explained. "We do know each other, a lot of us, in the defence industry and in the customer community and you have a reputation of being either interested and deeply motivated by their mission or not.

"And so, over time, I spent a lot of time talking to the customer community. I have a lot of friends in there and understand their drivers and motivations. I think you have to have that as your prime driver and then the rest follows, you know? How can we support that mission, how can we shape ourselves to be agile to deliver to what they need? We see that information superiority is something that defence needs to move to as a technology edge."

Zeitz said Leidos, which is currently preparing tender responses for various Australian defence projects, including the Deployable Health Capability for Phase 3 of the Joint Project 2060, has a truly unique role in the defence industry as a C4ISREW (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare) provider for some of the world's largest defence projects.

"We are unique because we're a prime systems integrator," said Zeitz. "We don't make ships, we don't make vehicles or submarines, so we sit in a unique space, we really deal with information. So, with defence it's C4ISREW, and it's also with core ICT. So, we're in a position where we provide Defence with solutions, integrated solutions for the war fighter. We provide a lot of the back end IT."

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And while the experience of shipbuilders dealing in aluminium and steel is being discussed in the Senate around the Future Frigates Project, Zeitz said the fundamental aspects of these billion-dollar projects will be in the C4ISREW detail.

"I would say, having the best air frame or ship frame or submarine frame is important, but really, the sensors and the information that you collect, disseminate, use, is going to be absolutely fundamental, and so we need to position ourselves in a way in which we're advising, supporting defence. You know, there ... [are] really intelligent minds in there working this through," she said.

To hear more from Zeitz, stay tuned for our exclusive podcast.

Systems integrators the quiet achievers
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