Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR July-Aug 2017 Contents 20 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JULY/AUG 2017
BOEING DEFENCE AUSTRALIA VP & MANAGING DIRECTOR, DARREN EDWARDS
On Thursday 21 October 1948, the US Air Materiel
Command (AMC) rejected Boeing’s design for a new
long-range strategic bomber for the US Air Force
(USAF). The Boeing design, which had been two years
in the making, was based on a USAF brief for a straight-
wing, turbo-prop aircraft, but the customer subsequently
decided an all-jet engine bomber would best achieve
the USAF’s speed, range and payload requirements.
That weekend, in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio,
a team of Boeing’s top engineers designed an
entirely new eight-jet engine bomber. They built a
scale model from balsa wood and wrote a 33-page
report that was presented to the AMC on Monday
morning. The design and the brief were accepted.
As the design for the B-52 Stratofortress matured
over the ensuing years, it barely altered from what
was developed on that historic weekend.
Today, sixty-five years later, the needs of defence are
incredibly complex. The battlespace is characterised
by new, highly evolved threats in greater numbers and
supported by highly sophisticated systems. The rapid
design, development and delivery of military hardware
and technology exhibited in previous decades is now
virtually non-existent. The entire acquisition process can,
and often does, take upwards of a decade.
For Australia to remain at the forefront of regional
security and achieve its mission of building an integrated
sovereign defence capability, we must innovate and
evolve at a pace unseen in our lifetime. Defence and
industry need to challenge the status quo, and I believe
we have never before been better positioned to push
aside constraints and embrace fundamental change.
Government has made significant progress to change
how it does business, thanks to a suite of defence
policies, objectives and plans, and a commitment to
increase defence spending to 2 percent of GDP. The
Commonwealth has also invested heavily in the Centre
for Defence Industry Capability, the Defence Innovation
Hub and the National Innovation and Science Agenda,
demonstrating a clear desire for transformation.
This stability and investment, coupled with CASG’s
acknowledgement of industry as a Fundamental
Input to Capability and its continuing reform agenda,
have empowered industry to take more innovative
and collaborative approaches to delivering defence
capability. For example, Boeing and Airbus continue to
compete globally for commercial and military contracts,
but here in Australia our companies partner on two
major defence contracts – the Helicopter Aircrew
Training System and P-8A Sustainment – demonstrating
industry’s ability and desire to train together, plan
together and achieve together to ensure the best
outcome for the Australian Defence Force.
Going forward, I believe adopting an evolutionary
or agile methodology is one of the most important
changes industry and Defence can make to secure our
joint future. The entire defence procurement framework
needs to be more swift and responsive. Shorter
acquisition cycles and continuous, overlapping spiral
development would reduce acquisition costs and risks,
and support CASG’s Smart Buyer framework.
The need for an entirely different acquisition model
will be particularly important on projects like AIR 6500,
which are tackling problems of immense complexity.
While putting the requirements in a box and asking
industry to deliver by a set date has been the norm,
rapid technological advancements mean a decade-long
procurement could render the technology obsolete
before it entered service.
An alternative example of how a new acquisition
model could work is best demonstrated by Boeing
Defence Australia’s agile development approach on
LAND 2072 Phase 2B. Our team operates on a cycle
of short sprints in software and hardware technology
development followed by a customer demonstration
then an adjustment and update of systems based on
test results. That cycle means we are immediately
addressing issues and ensuring the technology remains
cutting-edge. Requirements are set but can still evolve
and our customer gets faster insight into what works,
what doesn’t, and how to move forward quickly – that is
a win for everyone involved.
To reduce risk and encourage innovation, we must
also be willing to evolve existing systems instead
of necessarily developing new technology. Applying
evolutionary development would see technology
inserted as it progresses through a continuous spiral
development using agile technologies.
The contracting model would need to similarly evolve
to allow a more incremental approach to development.
Eliminating the high risk ‘big bang’ acquisition that
requires industry to make assumptions too early in the
cycle will cut development time and acquisition costs.
Making bold change will be challenging, but the
Government and CASG have shown a strong desire to
work with industry to reduce burden and bureaucracy
and drive innovation.
And there are strong actions that industry can,
and must, make on its own to meet Australia’s future
defence needs. Primes must step forward to invest
in and better support SMEs to have a greater role in
defence technology and development. SMEs often
have the agility, ability and innovation that primes
sometimes lack, so it’s in all our interests to offer them
our strength, resources, people and investments.
Similarly, more needs to be done to build a skilled and
diverse workforce capable of executing the $200 billion
worth of defence projects over the next decade. Industry
needs to be more creative and united in growing the
pipeline of STEM-skilled students, and to offer those
groups traditionally under-represented in defence a
chance to flourish. Industry can learn from Defence’s
efforts to encourage more women into the sector but
we need to look beyond gender diversity if we are to
reap the benefits of engaged and inclusive workforces
that truly reflect the general population.
The level of collaboration between Defence and
industry, and within industry, is a sign of a maturing
environment that will benefit Australia on many levels.
It will move us away from customising systems for the
domestic market to developing new, world-leading
products with a global export potential. It will also give
Australia the best-fit solution first.
As a Fundamental Input to Capability, industry
must join Defence in stepping up to the plate. We
need to guide the nature of our collaboration with
an eye to the future, evolving the role of industry
for the purpose of streamlining and supporting
innovation, ideas and excellence.
Boeing Defence Australia Darren Edwards, Vice President
& Managing Director
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