Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR July-Aug 2017 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JULY/AUG 2017 37
THALES AUSTRALIA CEO, CHRIS JENKINS
Thales Australia has grown from just 30 people 30
years ago to a nationwide enterprise of 3400 people
delivering key sovereign capabilities to the Australian
This growth has been achieved thanks to a
proven strategy of patient investment in Australia,
comprehensive technology transfer from our global
group, the development of a skilled workforce here
in Australia and strong engagement with research
agencies and our SME supply chain.
Out of that has come capabilities spanning
complex mission and communication systems, life-
saving protected vehicle manufacture, naval ship
repair and maintenance and world-leading sonar
and underwater systems, to name a few. And as
well as delivering these capabilities to the ADF
they’ve generated exports of more than $1.6 billion
over the past decade.
With the release of the 2016 Defence White
Paper, Integrated Investment Plan and Industry Policy
Statement, the Government made a clear declaration
that the defence industry is a fundamental input to
capability backed by investment of $195 billion over
the next 10 years.
The Government’s investment will not just equip
our defence forces with world leading platforms
and materiel. It will develop the next generation of
sovereign industrial capabilities here in Australia to
sustain our forces, support extensive SME supply
chains and to export.
As Australia embarks on this historic nation building
exercise in defence industry capability, the will to
invest in defence industry innovation here in Australia
is more evident now than at any time in the past 30
years. This commitment stands in stark contrast to
a decade ago when it was a struggle to convince
anyone that investment in Australia was worthwhile
compared to off-the-shelf purchases from offshore.
This new environment of investment in sovereign
capability has created an innovative environment that
stretches from the Ministers through to CASG and all
the way to the end user.
CASG's Smart Buyer methodology is changing the
way our defence industry does business. This very
pragmatic approach to rapid down-selection and then
evolution into the final requirement and delivery gets
capability into the hands of Defence quicker.
The increase in partnerships between CASG and
industry has also been a fundamental change to the
way industry delivers capability. Wherever there's
an integrated enterprise or project team brought
together around a particular platform or system we're
seeing an exceptionally agile and efficient way of
getting capability into service.
We have seen these partnerships deliver great
results quickly and efficiently. For example we've
seen it in Navy with the FFG enterprise, the success
of which was recently recognised in the Defence &
Industry Conference Awards. And we are seeing this
same kind of partnering approach with the Hawkei
and the F90 rifles for Army. Wherever the customer
and the supplier or the knowledge base have joined
together intimately to share information and working
together, you are getting some excellent results.
Intrinsically linked to these partnerships is the
increasing trust between defence and industry. As
trust increases so does confidence to accelerate the
delivery cycle. That means continuous improvement
in collaboration through supply chains and with
research agencies and the Defence Science
Technology Group. This is all ultimately aimed at
getting more effective equipment into the hands of
the warfighters quicker.
As Thales looks to the future, we will obviously
be looking to be the provider of the sonar suite and
other sensors for the Future Submarine Program. We
tend to look at the whole submarine enterprise or
submarine set of programs as being interlinked and
we're always mindful that one leads to the other.
The Future Submarine is part of a total program of
delivering submarine capability for Australia, because
there's a very important part of the Collins story yet to
run – and I think the two are intrinsically linked.
The technologies that go into Collins have created
knowledge for the future submarine program.
The skillset in industry and also 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.
As you look back to the beginning of the Collins
Class story, it was thirty years ago, almost to the
day, when the first contract was signed with Thales
for delivery of the Scylla sonar system. In hindsight
it was a significant day not just for the submarine
program but for Australian defence industry. It marked
the start of three decades of technology transfer,
patient investment and innovation that delivered a
world-class sovereign capability here in Australia in
We know it is world class because sonar sensors
manufactured in western Sydney are being fitted to
the latest generation of nuclear submarines being
built in the UK and Europe. This success story is
evidence of what is possible when we back the ability
of Australians to adopt, adapt, develop, make and
export advanced defence technology.
Investing in Australia for the long haul, backing
the ability of Australian innovation, ingenuity and our
can-do people has not only enabled Thales to build
a successful business here, but delivered critical
industry capabilities for the nation.
The growing trust between industry and
Government I mentioned earlier and specifically
that industry will always prioritise the delivery of
capability to the ADF, is why I am confident in
the ability of Australia’s defence industry to deliver
world class capability for the future. Particularly
as the Government makes a once-in-a-generation
investment in the Australian Defence Force and with
it, the Australian defence industry.
Thales Australia CEO, Chris Jenkins
Intrinsically linked to these partnerships is the increasing trust
between defence and industry.
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