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Australia readies space division to support broad domain capabilities, says GlobalData

Following separate announcements by Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) on the creation of a Space Division and testing Augmented Reality training for the Navy and an announcement from Navantia on the second of two Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship NUSHIP Stalwart departing for Australia from Navantia’s Ferrol shipyard in Spain.

Mathew George, Ph.D, Analyst, Aerospace, Defense and Security at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view: “Australia has had an interest in unrestricted access to space technologies to ensure unhindered multi-domain operations of its Defence Forces. There is a mountain of information that is collected from space that is crucial, just like any other forces these days, but there is seldom the creation of an exclusive space division. However, the Chief of Air Force has reiterated that the creation of this division by April 2022 does not mean that Australia supports the militarization of space and that all space operations are conducted consistent with international and domestic legal obligations.

“Space may be the ultimate high-ground, with communication, surveillance, geospatial information. However, capabilities and capacities take time to be built and maintained. While the air force takes steps to build those, the navy is working on ensuring that the capabilities they have can be maintained and talent can trained in situations as close to real world scenarios.

“The Navy’s Centre for Innovation (CFI) is testing software, handheld devices and digital goggles (Microsoft’s HoloLens II) to create an AR and help with training. It will not be the first time navies have tried this for training or maintenance, with similar technology being used by the Royal Canadian Navy with Kognitiv Spark’s RemoteSpark offering (which incidentally uses Microsoft’s HoloLens as well). Technologies like this allow service personnel to train in a safe environment, while reducing costs for the organization and also bringing subject matter experts insight available to crews while they try to solve issues onboard and reduce downtime. This will be crucial when the second AOR reaches Australia and will be ready to be put in service.

“Navantia and Australia have managed to build a partnership over different classes of ships, knowledge and technology transfer and the building of local capability in Australia with the presence of Navantia Australia (19 naval units designed by Navantia will be in service when the second AOR is operational). Australia is surely looking at building its capability to ensure its sovereign interests are protected, and has steadily built up capability to do so. More importantly, it has tried to build up local capability and in exploring newer, more efficient ways to ensure that its capabilities can be maintained, while investing in technologies that it hopes will help it retain the lead it has in the region and ensure its security.”