Defence industry pockets $3.8m in sovereign capability grants

Brandon How

Seven local Defence industry firms have pocketed $3.8 million worth of grants for projects ranging from quantum sensing to advanced manufacturing.

Funding was allocated through two matched grants programs, the Defence Global Competitiveness program and the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority program. Since the SME support programs were launched in 2018 they have awarded grants to more than 200 firms.

The Defence Global Competitiveness program awards grants of up to $150,000, while the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority program awards grants of up to $1 million.

The programs are open for applications on an ongoing basis. Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy previously announced the award of $3.2 million grants through these programs in March and $1.3 million last November.

Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy and Defence minister Richard Marles, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese off camera to the right. Image: LinkedIn

Advanced Navigation was awarded the largest grant in the most recent announcement, securing more than $830,000 for development of a custom fibre optic coil winding system for use in a gyroscopic inertial navigation system.

The Sydney-based firm’s fibre optic gyroscopes enable highly accurate positioning and track useful for both defence and commercial applications. It can also be used to enable autonomous capability.

Adelaide-based QuantX Labs has received nearly $590,000 for a hybrid integration facility for its compact quantum sensors. They provide precise timing functions crucial in situational awareness capabilities.

The firm’s Cryoclock product is currently used in the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, an Australian Defence Force (ADF) wide-area surveillance system with a range of 1,000km to 3,000km, providing 24-hour military surveillance of the country’s northern and western approaches. It includes three over-the-horizon radars in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia.

QuantX also received $240,000 for new manufacturing equipment during last November’s grant announcement.

The remaining five firms are:

  • Frontline Safety Australia (NSW) is receiving $494,343 for a lens cutting machine to produce ballistic protective eyewear as a component of the Ballistic and Laser Ocular Protection System (BLOPS) program
  • Adelaide Profile Services (SA) is receiving $781,018 for an advanced computerised numerical control dual thermal gantry for processing large non-conventional steel plates, such as those required for naval shipbuilding
  • Redline Engineering (VIC) is receiving $676,793 for multi-axis machining and dimensional verification capability. This will support production of complex mechanical components such as radar, small arms and munitions
  • Muir Engineering (TAS) is receiving $300,000 in two grants. They are for the acquisition and commission of computerised numerical control machining capabilities, and a two-tonne capacity gantry crane for manufacturing of anchoring equipment for international defence shipbuilding markets
  • George Lovitt Manufacturing (VIC) is receiving $150,000 for coordinate measuring machines for quality control of larger manufactured components. This will support international defence projects such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy said the latest set of grants demonstrates the government’s commitment to building sovereign capability.

“The Albanese Government is strongly committed to supporting a thriving sovereign Australian Defence industry, which is the cornerstone of delivering the national Defence priorities outlined by the Defence Strategic Review,” Mr Conroy said.

“These grant programs support Australian businesses to continue world-class manufacturing, serving Australia’s Defence needs, and providing the boost that’s needed to turn their cutting edge capabilities into successful defence exports.

“These grants are helping to grow Australia’s Defence industry, which employs tens of thousands of hardworking Australians, creating more jobs and opportunities and contributing significantly to our national economy.”

The government is expected to release Defence Industry Development Strategy before the end of the year to build on the Defence Strategic Review.

The review also led to the creation of the $3.4 billion Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator within Defence in July to serve as the “missing link” between local defence industry and the ADF. The first innovation challenge will focus on building an Australian sovereign uncrewed aerial system and trusted autonomy capability.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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