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Defence publishes sovereign capability roadmap for aerospace industry

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has released a new sovereign capability implementation plan, outlining key priorities for the maintenance and sustainment of Australia’s aerospace platforms.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has released a new sovereign capability implementation plan, outlining key priorities for the maintenance and sustainment of Australia’s aerospace platforms.

The Morrison government has published its latest implementation plan for its Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities — Aerospace platform deeper maintenance and structural integrity.

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This forms part of the government’s broader strategy to build a “robust, resilient and internationally competitive” Australian defence industry. 

The plan outlines three critical industrial capabilities, which Defence seeks to gain access to or control over:

  • execution of maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade activities;
  • aerospace platform structural integrity; and
  • the exploitation of data and emerging technologies to optimise aerospace platform deeper maintenance.

In a bid to ensure that Australia retains the identified critical industrial capabilities, Defence aims to build the following capabilities over the next decade:

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  • access to design, engineering, and maintenance-related intellectual property technical data and operational performance condition data supporting aerospace platform and component deeper maintenance;
  • national multi-purpose and cross-platform infrastructure development for the conduct of aerospace platform deeper maintenance and structural integrity management;
  • innovative, flexible contracting that promotes and enables contracts across multiple platforms and encourages the realisation of economies of scale for management facilities established within Australia;
  • sustainment focus through the Smart Buyer approach in the early stages of the capability life cycle to ensure critical elements are established under commercial, co-operative and foreign military sales programs;
  • co-operation with partner nations to establish shared management capability;
  • enhanced collaboration between educational institutions and industry to enhance skills transfer that develops areas of critical need; and
  • enhanced collaboration between Defence Science and Technology Group and academia to support relevant research and development.

To implement the plan, Defence has delegated specific responsibilities to stakeholders across the industry, including the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Defence Science and Technology Group.

These actions will begin with a CASG review of intellectual property guidelines underpinning deeper maintenance management requirements across the capability life cycle — commencing in mid-2021.

The program will also include a RAAF review of deeper maintenance requirements for Boeing 737 derivative aerospace platforms, E-7 Wedgetail and P-8A Poseidon, in late 2021.

The RAAF review is designed to determine whether there are advantages to co-locating deeper maintenance of the platforms, including whether there are related advantages for Australian industry.

In announcing the release of the roadmap, Minister Price said it would support the growth of the SME sector by assisting established stakeholders and encouraging new entrants.

“This plan sets out how the new opportunities for Australian defence industry to get into the aerospace sector are literally sky high,” Minister Price said.

“Our military aircraft are critical to the Australian Defence Force’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives. 

“We need Australian industry to keep them operating at a high standard, as well as to ensure they remain safe and fit for purpose.”

Minister Price said the plan provides “clarity and direction” to Australian companies, helping to align investment with Defence objectives.

“We also need Australian skills, infrastructure and know-how to keep these fleets in service,” she added.

“There are great opportunities for Australian small and medium businesses to get involved and tap into global supply chains through maintaining our military aircraft.”

The release of this latest roadmap follows the publication of the Combat Clothing and the Munitions and Small Arms Plans in December 2019, and the Land Combat and Protected Vehicles Plan in August 2020.

[Related: Industry encouraged to have say on future relationship with Defence]

Defence publishes sovereign capability roadmap for aerospace industry
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