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Downer secures $3m Defence contract

Downer secures $3m Defence contract

The Sydney-based integrated services provider has been awarded a contract via the Defence Innovation Hub to deliver CIED capability as part of the LAND 154 Phase 4 project.

The Sydney-based integrated services provider has been awarded a contract via the Defence Innovation Hub to deliver CIED capability as part of the LAND 154 Phase 4 project.

Downer Defence Systems (DDS) has been selected as the prime contractor for the delivery of ‘Muskito’ capability — an integrated Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) concept that leverages autonomous systems and machine learning to detect above-ground and below-surface threats before alerting an operator via a visual interface.

As part of the $3 million contract, awarded through the Defence Innovation Hub, DDS will work with local industry to develop the technology, which forms part of the capability requirements for the LAND 154 Phase 4 – the Joint Counter Improvised Explosive Device Capability project.


Local firms expected to support DDS’ delivery include Urban Circus, EPE, and Insitu Pacific, which will collaborate to develop a Muskito prototype before delivering a technology demonstration for Defence.

The partners will be tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • DDS will act as prime systems integrator and implement its machine learning capabilities in the detection of surface and subsurface threats, and provide overall project management to integrate the technology into the Muskito Mission System;
  • Urban Circus will develop the system that converts the sensor data into a visual reference for the operator;
  • Insitu Pacific will deliver the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will integrate with the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to provide tactical data; and
  • EPE will support the initial conduct of a concept of operations workshop, supplying innovation and integration support aligned to the provision of the HDT Hunter Wolf UGV, the Cobham Ground Penetrating Radar and a number of other technical systems.

“We are excited to work with the Commonwealth and our industry partners to develop the Muskito system,” DDS executive general manager Andrew Foster said.  

“IEDs and other related threats have been the scourge of Australian and allied service personnel in their operations overseas in recent decades, and we are grateful to be given an opportunity to play a role in helping to mitigate that threat.

“This contract underscores the government’s commitment to working with industry to create genuine and sustainable sovereign industrial capability. The future of the defence industry is about being self-reliant and creating enduring employment opportunities for Australians.”

Dr Ben Guy, CEO of Urban Circus, welcomed the opportunity to work alongside local peers to develop the technology.

“The future of work is to work visually. As an Australian owned and operated global leader in 3D visual systems, we are delighted to be working with Downer and Defence with this important work,” he said.

EPE’s managing director, Warwick Penrose, said the project “aligns perfectly” with the firm’s focus on the delivery of Force Protection solutions.

“The Muskito program will harness EPE’s CIED domain expertise, technology partners and innovative engineering to deliver a sovereign Australian capability that will protect ADF personnel deployed in non-permissive operational environments,” he said.

Insitu Pacific’s managing director, Andrew Duggan, said the firm is committed to reducing casualties from IEDs.

“During the time we supported the ADF with unmanned aerial ISR services in Iraq and Afghanistan, our team witnessed the destructive and devastating effects of IEDs,” Duggan said.

“As a company focussed on driving innovation to solve complex problems, we welcome the opportunity to be part of this Australian team to develop a world-class counter improvised threat solution.”

DDS EGM Andrew Foster concluded: “We’ve got a strong line-up of industry partners who are all champing at the bit to do our part to protect Australian personnel, create jobs for Australians and to generate growth in the economy.”

[Related: Defence issues new wave of grants to local SMEs]

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