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FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE - 06/11/1995 - DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE - Program 8--Science and Technology - Subprogram 8.1--Aeronautical and Maritime Research

Senator MacGIBBON --Somewhere there was reference to a qualification for stores carriage on ADF aircraft. Why would that data not be available to us from USAF sources?

Dr Brabin-Smith --In some cases it is, but there are occasions when we have a combination of aircraft with a store that is unique to Australia. The best example I can think of is the historical one of the adaptation of the F111s to operate the Harpoon missile, which is an Australian unique combination. There are other examples. The Air Force can help.

Air Vice Marshal Collins --I heard you mention the Harpoon on the F111C. That is a totally unique combination; the US Air Force has never carried a Harpoon on an F111. Our F111Cs are unique anyway in the sense of their having long wings based on tactical aircraft.

Senator MacGIBBON --But those occasions would necessarily be very few, would they not? Most of our ordnance comes from the United States, and we are operating basically US strike aircraft.

Dr Brabin-Smith --The Air Force is in a better position to comment on this than I am. These events happen sufficiently frequently for it to be important that we have the capability in country to look at store separation, both through computational fluid dynamics and, experimentally, through the wind tunnel.

Senator MacGIBBON --On the same page there is reference to advice having been provided on the Leopard tank thermal imaging sight and then it goes on to say something about NINOX. I thought the contract had been let for the thermal imaging sight for the Leopards?

Dr Brabin-Smith --Again, Senator, I think you are asking the wrong person. Major General Crews would be in a better position to comment than I am. Can you tell me what page you are on, please?

Senator MacGIBBON --Page 178 of the annual report. It is down the bottom left.

Dr Brabin-Smith --I cannot add anything to what I have already said.

Major Gen. Crews --The purchase of the Leopard thermal sights is part of NINOX phase 1B. At the moment tenders are out for an element only of phase 1B. The balance will follow in 1996 and 1997. The Leopard tank thermal sight element will be one of the latter parts to be let to tender. The work done by DSTO is purely investigatory.

Senator MacGIBBON --I thought the tender for the sight had been let a year or 18 months ago. That is all right. Thank you. My final question on DSTO relates to the one that you were not here for, Chief Defence Scientist, and that was: what was the result of the inquiry into fatigue and exposure of the troops in K95?

Dr Brabin-Smith --I apologise for my absence at that time. I do not have a specific answer to your question. The investigation of the effects of northern operations on soldiers is part of a continuing set of investigations that we are carrying out generally in support of the Army. They have been proceeding over several years now, and I believe they will continue for several years. But specifically what was learnt on K95, I am not in a position to say. I don't know.

Senator MacGIBBON --How do you carry that research out, given the breakup between aeronautical marine research and electronics and surveillance and technical things like that? Where is the medical or the physiological facility in DSTO?

Dr Brabin-Smith --That is a good question. The management challenge is to arrange simultaneously to have customer focus through, for example, the operations divisions and, in the case of the Army, the Land Operations Branch, as part of the Land, Space and Optoelectronics Division, while simultaneously nurturing the basic scientific disciplines that are the bedrock of the professional advice that we provide.

In this particular case, the expertise in human factors is found in the Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory, although it is the job of the Land Operations Branch down in Salisbury to act as a central point for the interface with Army as the customer. Basically, the message has gone out within DSTO: break down the old stovepipes between the divisions. I am pleased to say that that is working well.

Senator MacGIBBON --When you have broken the stovepipes down, you have still got to have the expertise in there in the medical field. I am not talking about a technical field here, and you do not seem to have outlined where this source is.

Dr Brabin-Smith --I think that we would differentiate between an understanding of physiology from an understanding of medicine.

Senator MacGIBBON --You are claiming to have good physiologists at DSTO, are you?

Dr Brabin-Smith --Sufficient, yes.

Senator MacGIBBON --Good. I will come to see them some time.

Dr Brabin-Smith --You would be most welcome.

Senator Robert Ray --If you leave right now!

Senator MacGIBBON --The minister announced in the middle of the year that we are putting half a million into a ballistic missile research program. That is a pretty modest investment, isn't it, for something of that nature that would be very cost intensive?

Dr Brabin-Smith --Senator, our ambitions are appropriately modest. We are not going to have anything other than a very small niche in terms of our interaction with the United States in this area.

Senator MacGIBBON --You will basically be doing some sort of computer modelling and things like that with it, will you?

Dr Brabin-Smith --For example, NASA is launching some rockets from the Woomera range now. DSTO is collaborating with the Ballistic Missile Defense Office in the United States to look at some of the issues of data fusion in terms of tracking such rockets and the transmission of such fused data in real time from Australia to the United States. Another aspect that we could look at some time in the future is the use of OTHR (Jindalee) as a sensor to help track such events.

Senator MacGIBBON --Where are these missiles flown? Are they flown within the troposphere?

Dr Brabin-Smith --I am not sure what the maximum altitude of the current experiment is.

Senator MacGIBBON --How would you find them with OTHR, then?

Dr Brabin-Smith --I said OTHR is being used at some time in the future against rockets that would have an appropriate height and range. What we do not know at this stage, because we have not done the experiments, is how effective OTHR might be in what is probably going to be a very tricky field because of the small radar cross-section at low (Jindalee) frequencies.

CHAIR --That completes 8.1, Aeronautical and Marine Research. There are no questions on Electronics and Surveillance Research, 8.2.