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Program 1.7 - Defence Science and Technology

Program 1.7 is delivered by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). DSTO's objective is to provide expert, impartial science and technology advice and innovative solutions to the Government, Defence and Australia's national security agencies to support the conduct of military operations, the provision of military capabilities and the promotion of security and stability. DSTO also has whole-of-government responsibility for coordinating science and technology support to national security.

In support of military operations in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, DSTO deployed 14 operations analysts to directly support commanders, as well as deploying 26 fly-away teams. The science and technology support included improved force protection and counter insurgency, and state-of-the-art technologies to protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices. DSTO conducted cultural compatibility studies related to operations in Afghanistan, and supported operational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies, campaign assessments in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, and command, control and intelligence management analysis.

DSTO's science and technology program includes a specific focus on sustainment of the current force and has achieved notable successes in reducing the cost of ownership of major ADF platforms, including AP-3C and C-130J aircraft, Armidale class patrol boats and the Collins class submarine.

DSTO provided technical risk assessments and certification for 44 Defence Capability Plan projects that went to the Government for decision.

Australia's national security capability continued to be improved through whole-of-government access to unique DSTO capabilities in intelligence exploitation, chemical-biological defence, and explosives and blast protection. International national security science and technology collaborative projects continued successfully under DSTO leadership following their transfer of responsibility in 2012 from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

DSTO continued its support to Border Protection Command, providing analysis of the command's assets to optimise their application to tasks. DSTO also installed effective maritime surveillance radar on Christmas Island.

DSTO increased its level of engagement with industry and academia, and further developed its active science and technology programs with partner nations. Highlights included:

  • establishing a Counsellor Defence Science and Technology position in Tokyo
  • signing strategic alliances with the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
  • establishing the Centre for Food Innovation with CSIRO and the University of Tasmania
  • hosting an international conference on physical employment standards
  • collaborating on establishing the Defence Innovation Realisation Fund
  • initiating strategic alliances with key Australian companies in the defence and national security domains
  • introducing a university competition for robotics development.

The objective of the DSTO strategic enabling research program is to 'future proof' Defence by developing DSTO's scientific knowledge and skills to meet Defence's current and future capability and operational needs. The program is adaptable, allowing promising technologies and innovative developments to be fast-tracked and outcomes to be fielded at the earliest available opportunity. The program continued to foster interactions with and leverage from industry, academia, and Australian and overseas research bodies.

Table 3.22 - Program 1.7 deliverables

Table 3.22 - Program 1.7 deliverables
Deliverable Status
Provide timely, accurate and high-quality advice on defence and national security related matters to the Secretary, CDF and government met
Provide effective, relevant and timely solutions and technical support to military operations, to the current force and to national security agencies' operations and capabilities Substantially met
Provide effective, relevant and timely support to capability development and acquisition decision making, including technical risk assessment and certification for Defence Capability Plan projects met
Deliver a program of enabling research aimed at enhancing future Defence capabilities and maintaining world-class research expertise and facilities met
Maintain and enhance strategic relationships with external organisations; in particular, international partners, local industry, academia, and national security agencies met
Contribute to reform outcomes by continuing to seek and implement improvements in the way DSTO does business and by identifying and evaluating technologies that facilitate efficiencies and savings in the development, operations, repair and maintenance of major ADF platforms met

Table W3.23: Program 1.7 key performance indicators

Table W3.23: Program 1.7 key performance indicators
Key performance indicator Status
Advice on science and technology matters is of high quality Met DSTO has consistently met this key performance indicator.
The applied research program is balanced in meeting the needs of Defence in support of operations, the current force, capability development and acquisition, and of whole-of-government national security Substantially met DSTO has consistently met this key performance indicator, although for 2012-13 budget reductions have triggered program reprioritisation and subsequent rebalancing.
Science and technology outputs and programs are delivered on time and within agreed resources Substantially met This key performance indicator has been rated as 'substantially achieved' over the previous three years. Budget reductions have caused some lower priority deliverables supporting the current force to be deferred.
Outputs of the research program can be identified as innovative solutions that can be used to enhance capability, reduce risk and save resources Met DSTO has consistently met this key performance indicator.
Enabling research is focused on supporting future Defence capability Substantially met This key performance indicator was rated 'achieved' in 2011-12; budget reductions have affected the 2012-13 program.
Science and technology capability is contributed to by a workforce with world-class expertise and facilities and highly leveraged engagement with international defence research organisations, key national security partners, industry and academia Met This key performance indicator was rated 'achieved' in 2011-12; substantial further progress was made in 2012‑13 to enhance external engagements.