Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR June 2017 Contents 58 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JUNE 2017
combat helicopters, where roles are combined in
one individual, the ACO or AvWO, with the help of
a broader networked team, fulfils all the roles of the
When the joint team was being formed to train
ACO and AvWO mission commanders for these
roles, it was recognised by senior officers that both
customer and supplier had key roles which would be
greatly enhanced by an open, sharing and trusting
environment. They ensured that this came to pass
by selecting defence active reserve personnel and
an industry supplier who were comfortable with and
would thrive together in this environment.
CMDR Porter commented that ‘Customer sourced
knowledge, importantly provided experience with the
systems being simulated and how they are used in
practice. The team knew which aspects of training
which, through simulations, could materially impact
the progress and resultant competency of students.
They also had a vision of how instructors could and
would use the simulation systems’.
It’s clear that from the industry supplier side,
Cirrus RTPS knew how domain ideas and concepts
could be translated into implementable actions. Cirrus
engineers had the skills to design, build, test, accredit
and deliver the simulation system. They also didn’t
hesitate to innovate to create desirable technical
outcomes. When changes were being suggested by
the customer, they knew their architectural impacts.
It was very clear that the joint team needed both
customer and supplier inputs and critiques freely
given, but how could a genuine partnership be
CMDR Porter said ‘The team rapidly recognised that
both parties had to respect the relevant knowledge
and expertise areas, and contractual responsibilities,
of the other party. Although both customer and
supplier were responsible and empowered in their
own areas, they knew they must cooperate and act
with the project’s overall outcome in mind’.
HOW DID THIS WORK IN PRACTICE?
Fundamentally it worked because the behaviours
of both parties were driven by trust, not strict
contractual terms. From the supplier side, there was
no second guessing of the Commonwealth’s calls
on functionality weightings. In turn the customer side
did not suggest every single piece of functionality
was critically important, nor did it second guess
the supplier’s engineering calls. The supplier was
disciplined and their actions included cognisance of
the cost and time objectives, by not suggesting every
piece of requested functionality would be expensive!
Development of trust between team members
was earned, not taken for granted, because all
members were proactive in identifying ways that
could drive down costs and risks, whilst still
adhering to contractual guidelines and good
There is no doubt that the successful implementation
of ACOTS has been brought about by the intersection
of three main factors. Firstly, the willingness to follow
an iterative process of development – Crawl, Walk,
then Walk Faster – by learning and interaction at
each stage and going forward to new levels with
confidence. Secondly a strong bond of trust has
developed over the years between Air Force and
Navy providers of content and assessors of the
developing system, and the engineers of Cirrus RTPS
who had the skills to do the technology development.
Thirdly, the vision of senior officers in the Air Force
Training Group to let this project run in its collegiate
atmosphere, supporting and approving each stage of
the process through to its implementation.
This approach is different from many military
capability acquisitions. Often where there is not a
lot of capability development required, traditionally
the customer has tried to specify exactly what they
want in advance, tightly bind their chosen supplier
contractually, and then make sure that organisation
delivers on their contract in full, on time and to cost.
What can be learned from this project which could
be of benefit to future defence capability projects?
The collaborative approach, whilst still maintaining
separation of roles between service personnel and
industry has worked in this instance because the
project was relatively small and geographically
confined, it had a high development content which
would have been difficult to specify in advance, and
the people interacted very well.
Senior officers will look at this project and the
lessons to be learned from it, to see where they can
be applied to produce other successful capability
implementations. That will not always be possible as
senior officers have to consider multiple alternative
ways of doing business and then match the right
model to the right situation and project.
They certainly chose the right model and
team for this project, which after an outstanding
implementation, has been readily accepted by Air
Force’s ACOs and Navy’s AvWOs under training at
No.1 FTS, RAAF Base Sale.
(APDR appreciated the support of AFTG and the joint
project team in preparing this article.)
Student using ACO-TS PTT.
Credit: Cirrus RTPS
29/05/2017 3:22 PM
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