With the arrival of the JSF in 2018 – a 5th generation fighter – the RAAF has recognised the need to transform itself holistically, especially when it comes to engaging defence industry.
“We’re looking to take a slightly non-traditional approach to how the military might have approached industry and those types of engagements in the past,” Group Captain Pete Mitchell, director of Plan Jericho, told Defence Connect. “[We need] to become more accessible.”
“We are extremely busy. We're a small team and we try and make sure that we're available and accessible to a whole bunch of people. There's obviously military customers or military people that we engage with, but also, certainly, a significant amount of industry.”
The 2016 White Paper and the associated Integrated Investment Program and the Defence Industry Policy Statement have included Australian industry as a Fundamental Input to Capability (FIC), however there are growing concerns from the community about the actual implementation of this opportunity.
Plan Jericho is a remarkable example of how industry as an FIC is already being employed, GPCAPT Pete Mitchell said.
“It's certainly our experience when we go out and talk to a small to medium enterprise, that they resonate with wanting to change the way that they interact with Defence," he said.
“They certainly appreciate the openness that we can provide and we've also seen that when we go and talk to, not only small to medium enterprise, but to various academic institutions about what areas of research they might be going into.”
There is hope for SMEs and academia.
“That's where we see that a lot of the technology and innovation will come, from the small to medium enterprise and even from academics and the like," GPCAPT Mitchell said.
According to GPCAPT Mitchell, the RAAF must actively seek these organisations and individuals.
“We need to explore those concepts and be more accessible as an Air Force and be more proactive in engaging with those types of people, so that we can actually partner with them and bring in new technology, innovative technology, that can actually give us an advantage for any mission that we may be asked to do by the government,” he said.