Australia is pouring $3.4 billion into a defence capabilities accelerator

- May 1, 2023 2 MIN READ
Lance Bombardier Jarrod Logan, launches a Wasp unmanned aerial system
Australian Army Lance Bombardier Jarrod Logan launches a Wasp unmanned aerial system. Photo: Sgt. W. Guthrie/ Dept of Defence.
The federal government has earmarked $3.4 billion over the next decade for an Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) to develop advanced military technologies.

The proposal is part of the Defence Strategic Review released last week, which recommends spending $19 billion over the next four years amid more effective support for innovation, faster acquisition and better links between Defence and industry, and increases the current planned spend on defence innovation by $557.5 million.

The program will be a rapid response unit to changing technical capabilities and demands. The accelerator will focus on solving the most relevant technical issues, and taking a more agile approach to procurement, backing local companies. It comes just weeks after Adelaide satellite startup Fleet Space revealed it was awarded a $6.4 million defence contract.

Defence Minister and deputy PM Richard Marles said the Defence Strategic Review spells out how Australia must invest in the transition to new and innovative technologies for its defence capability.

“This is precisely what the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator will deliver,” he said.

“Central to this will be our ongoing work to operationalise Pillar Two of the AUKUS agreement, which seeks to develop and provide capabilities such as undersea warfare and hypersonics for Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.”

Marles wants ASCA up and running by July 1, allowing an additional 18 months to develop, test and refine the operating model.  It will replace the Defence Innovation Hub and Next Generation Technologies Fund, which the Defence Strategic Review found were no longer fit for purpose in a rapidly changing strategic environment.

Defence industry minister Pat Conroyn said the government will support innovation in partnership with Australian industry and research organisations to address global issues.

“The Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator will lead the way in agile delivery of capability solutions to the Australian Defence Force,” he said.

“Innovation must translate into acquisition, and the Defence Accelerator will address the very real and urgent need to turn emerging technologies into game-changing capabilities. Linking technology development to speedy acquisition will also create many more jobs in the Australian defence industry.”

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