The government has given the go-ahead for a project to enhance and continuously improve equipment used by Australian soldiers.
New Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said the Integrated Soldier Systems project, worth up to $1 billion over its 13-year life cycle, would deliver a range of items of equipment to the ADF.
The first tranche will deliver supplements to the basic equipment used by soldiers including body armour, helmets, hearing and eye protection, and load carriage equipment, as well as field equipment like water purifiers, helmet torches, storage bags, cooking gear, and sleeping bags.
“We’re taking a flexible approach here, investing up to $240 million between now and 2023, with the flexibility to update and change things as technology develops into the future,” the minister said.
Minister Pyne said this project would deliver a broad range of equipment to ensure ADF personnel continue to meet emerging threats, are less detectable, less susceptible to enemy attacks and able to fight longer and more effectively in challenging conditions.
In the future, the project will continue to enhance the basic equipment used by soldiers to keep it up to date.
It will also consider new and emerging technology, such as hand-held language translators, portable unmanned aerial vehicles and exoskeletons or ‘mule’ unmanned vehicles to help soldiers carry their equipment.
“This investment under LAND 125 Phase 4 will ensure our soldiers have the mobility and protection to deploy quickly and achieve their mission as an integral component of the ADF,” Minister Pyne said.
“Delivery of the subsequent tranches will be subject to a range of variables centred on incorporating emerging technologies, some yet to be fully developed, to ensure our soldiers continue to have the best capabilities available.”
Minister Pyne said the 2016 Defence White Paper made it clear that the government would invest in a program for continuously improving personal equipment soldiers use.
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The open request for tender to establish a prime vendor for the supply of ADF field equipment will be released to market through AusTender.
Industry are encouraged to register with AusTender, which will provide access to all tender documentation and ensure you receive any additional updates on the project.
Personal equipment has much improved since the early years of the Afghanistan deployment when soldiers patrolled in stifling heat in body armour that provided a high level of protection, but which was so heavy that ability to fight against a nimble foe was affected.
That resulted in new lighter body armour, which provided a high degree of protection, as well as a range of other equipment. The Army’s Diggerworks organisation oversees development and introduction to service of new and improved kit, surveying soldiers for ideas and to assess what works and what doesn’t.