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companies that miss out that the process has
not been thorough enough.
Chris Jenkins: I think you're right. I mean - the
climate has changed around acquisition. The Smart
Buyer approach, overall, gets capability into the hands
of Defence quicker. In a way it reduces some of the
non-value adding costs of unsuccessful bidders. You
know, in a process where if within Defence there is
such evidence in the tender submissions that there is
a clear winner or a clear capability advantage in some
way, prolonging the process doesn't help anyone really.
It delays capability ultimately being delivered and it
costs the tendering parties more money.
Unfortunately, non value-adding by companies
spending more on bids probably leads to Defence
making an internal assessment something along the
lines of: "Well, somehow or other that increased
cost bidding, for a non-value adding bid, so it's
going to come back at some point as overhead
somewhere else” – and that’s not a good result for
anyone really. You know, generally I think industry
is showing that it respects that approach and it
makes a lot of sense in combination with many of
the other aspects of the Smart Buyer methodology
that CASG adopting. Efficiency all-round is a good
thing these days and agility is pretty important in
delivering capability. The more we can get into a
faster approach to getting capability into the hands
of, and most importantly, the skills and capabilities
on the ground in Australia to evolve those systems
and keep them at their peak, that's the sort of place
that Australia needs to be getting to.
KB: From the Thales Australia viewpoint, are
you starting to notice any shifts along the lines
of what the Government is hoping for with
Defence technology benefitting other parts of the
economy coupled with a much more cooperative
relationship between Defence and industry?
Chris Jenkins: In some of the areas we've been
working, wherever there's an integrated enterprise
or project team brought together around a particular
platform or system we're seeing a really, really agile
and efficient way of getting capability into service.
We saw that on the Bushmasters with the IPT that
was set up for that project. We've seen it in Navy
with the FFG enterprise and we've seen those kinds
of real partnering activities that CASG hosting in a
number of areas. We've seen when that happens
there are definitely great results delivered very, very
quickly, more efficiently. Yes, I'm a big fan of that
improved partnering and we are seeing evidence of
it for sure.
Now, I wouldn't say it's across all areas but it's
certainly been in some important domains that
we've been involved in and we're seeing it forming
up again with Hawkei - this same kind of partnering
approach. We're also seeing it in the work that
we've been doing on the F90 rifles for Army.
Wherever the customer and the supplier or the
knowledge base have joined together intimately,
sharing their information and working together on
it you're getting some really good results. I think
that's been a very clear positive out of this Smart
KB: Now on another huge naval project that
interests me - SEA 1000. Are you starting to see
much action there? I know there's a lot going on
between Lockheed Martin, DCNS, and Navy.
Chris Jenkins: Yes, we're obviously looking to
responding to SEA 1000 with the combat system
integrator for the sonars and some other sensors. I
think that's a process that's running forward pretty
much to the schedule that Defence has been wanting.
I think perhaps as importantly, SEA 1000 is a part of
a total program of delivering submarine capability for
Australia. You know, at the end of SEA 1000 there's
the Shortfin Barracuda and in between times there's
a really important part of the Collins story yet to run. I
think the two are intrinsically linked.
The technologies that go into Collins have created a
certain amount of knowledge for the future submarine
programme. The skillset in industry and also the
skillsets in Defence being developed and implemented
through Collins over the coming years are going
to be key to generating the skillsets for the future
submarines. Just looking at SEA 1000 as a sort of
stand-alone programme is missing the target, if I could
say we have to look at the total submarine capability
that Australia needs to field over the coming decade –
or longer - and Collins is still an intrinsic part of that, a
very important part of that.
At Thales, we tend to look at the whole submarine
enterprise or submarine set of programmes as being
interlinked and we're always mindful that one leads
to the other.
KB: A smart customer would presumably be using
Collins in some way as a test bed or at least a
stepping stone to SEA 1000, as you say, rather than
treating them as completely separate exercises.
They will both have AN/BYG-1 at the heart of it and
a lot of similarity on the sonar side and some of the
other sensors as well.
Chris Jenkins: That's exactly right. I don't know
if I'm using the word evolution too much these days
but I suppose the longer that you're in the world of
defence you see how one system leads to another,
one capability leads to another - whether it's in the way
it's deployed and utilised in service or the way industry
is adapting technology. We are taking advantage of
the latest commercial technology that might enhance
defence capability or indeed developing those unique
elements whether it's sensors, or the integration
of those sensors and systems to create the really
powerful combination that Australia needs.
I think the more you stay in this sector the more
you see that evolution - while it might seem like a
bit of a lightweight statement – is absolutely the key
to Australia's growing defence capabilities and in
(left) CEO of Thales Australia, Mr Chris Jenkins and (right) Head of Land Systems Division, Australian Army officer Major
General David Coghlan watch as Minister for Defence Industry, the Honourable Christopher Pyne MP signs the acceptance of
the last two Hawkei pilot vehicles at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne on 14 November 2016. Credit: CoA
29/05/2017 3:14 PM
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