The CTO will meet with Australian defence industry to assess capabilities for consideration in the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program. This program seeks out world-leading technologiesthat will enhance military capabilities and provide long-term value to the Australian-US alliance.
The CTO will consider both mature fielded technology (technology readiness level 8-9) and technology ready for testing in an operational environment (TRL 6-7).
The CTO is focusing on capabilities in the following domains:
1. Asymmetric force application: Asymmetric force application is the use of non-traditional technologies, tactics, and weapons to provide a clear military advantage to military forces during maneuver and engagement operations.
2. Electromagnetic spectrum agility (EMS): The increasingly wireless nature of the global economy, coupled with advances in analog-to-digital conversion, cognitive radios, smart antennas, and increased transmitter-receiver diversity, present opportunities to develop new capabilities that sustain and extend military advantage in the EMS domain. These new capabilities will also mitigate the impact of new challenges, including an increasingly cluttered operational EMS environment.
3. Autonomous systems: Autonomous systems are a "capability (or a set of capabilities) that enables a particular action of a system to be automatic or, within programmed boundaries, self-governing". Autonomous systems can improve capability without increasing capacity by better co-ordinating and synchronising current sensors and weapon systems and by maximising the efficiency of both.
4. Information operations and analytics: Exploit commercial technology advancements in information collection and management to provide the joint force enhanced communications and situational awareness within their area of responsibility to disrupt and delay adversary forces from offensive operations, counter their ability to use deceptive messaging to influence US/coalition operations and develop capabilities to counter adversary cyber and C2 communications.
The mission of the FCT program is to test items and technologies of foreign allies and friends that have a high TRL in order to satisfy valid defence requirements more quickly and economically.
Within the FCT program, foreign items are nominated by a sponsoring organisation within the US DoD for testing in order to determine whether the items satisfy US military requirements or address mission area shortcomings. The CTO funds testing and evaluation; the services fund all procurements that result from a successful test.
The FCT program’s objectives are to improve the US warfighter’s capabilities and reduce expenditures through:
- Rapidly fielding quality military equipment;
- Eliminating unnecessary duplication of research, development, test, and evaluation;
- Reducing life cycle or procurement costs;
- Enhancing standardisation and interoperability;
- Promoting competition by qualifying alternative sources; and
- Improving the US military industrial base.
Further information on the Comparative Technology Office and the Foreign Comparative Testing is available here.