"Technology and innovation is pretty much what underpins everything we do in BAE Systems because, ultimately, defence and the Australian Defence Force … require … a technological edge,” Phillips told Defence Connect.
"They need technological superiority to be able to do the job that they do, so that really underpins all of our propositions, whether it's on something like [the over-the-horizon radar system] JORN or even if it's in the maritime space in terms of complex upgrades," he added.
JORN is a state-of-the-art system that provides wide area surveillance at ranges of 1,000 to 3,000 kilometres and plays a vital role in supporting the Australian Defence Force’s air and maritime operations, border protection, disaster relief and search and rescue operations.
The pending upgrade, called Project Air 2025 Phase 6, will support the operational life of JORN beyond 2042, with work to commence in 2018.
The project will improve the performance of JORN and involves the replacement of most of the radar and frequency management system hardware, information and communication technology hardware, the upgrade of software architecture and processing, as well as other specialised optional enhancements.
In particular, Phillips said BAE Systems would seek to help Australia nurture this growing emphasis on driving the technological capabilities of its own defence environment.
"A key focus for us is how you both grow and develop the skill base and the knowledge base in the Australian defence industry to be able to meet those capability challenges for the future," he continued.
Phillips said the key question going forward hinged on how to inject defence funding into those areas that require that targeted capability development and "some of the capability edges that will give ADF the ability to do the job that we asked them to do".
"It really does underpin everything we do in the defence industry," Phillips added. "That's not specific to BAE Systems, but it is a core of what we're about."