Speaking to Defence Connect, Afterburner Australia owner Christian Boucousis – a former RAAF fighter jet pilot – noted a key challenge in Australia around the fact that many Defence contractors with a local presence were part of a highly matrixed organisation, "either from Europe or from the US".
He also underlined the relatively modest size of the domestic defence industry.
"So I think it's important that the management, the leadership of the Australian defence industry clearly articulates inside that matrixed organisation what we need to have locally to achieve [its goals]," Boucousis argued.
Boucousis said cultivating such local relationships would ultimately need to become a fundamental element underpinning the defence industry’s focus.
"Because it doesn't matter what capability you bring into market as a Defence contractor, if you're unable to maintain the relationships – which are all local – then you can have the shiniest, most effective piece of equipment in the country but if no-one likes you or trusts you, it's going to sit on the shelf," he warned.
He also noted some emerging challenges around a rapidly changing industry in a broader sense.
"The world has changed," said Boucousis. "There's innovation [and] new ways of going about the same problem and, therefore, often our capability and objectives and requirements start to translate a little bit out of what we're contracted to achieve."
Additionally, Boucousis highlighted a key issue around the industry’s existing platforms, history and reliance on overcomplicated processes. This, he flagged, had seen many organisations becoming "a little bit bogged down and it's almost that the entrepreneurial element is subdued a little bit".
"I do think it comes back to many of the companies here representing a global, multinational behemoth,” Boucousis reiterated, adding that essentially “we’re really navigating multiple relationships in the defence industry in Australia".