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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 13

I Colonial Origins

II First World War

III Between The World Wars

IV The Second World War

V Post-second World War

VI After The Joint Project

VII Science And Decisions At The Top

VIII Armed Services Technology

IX New Tasks And Projects

X Transfer Of Research And Development

XI Acknowledgement



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Chapter 13 - Defence Science and Technology (continued)

A strong national defence research organisation was well poised to take advantage of new and broader international agreements. As a member of ANZUS, Australia was invited into the Non-Atomic Research and Development (NAMRAD) community which already included Britain, Canada, and the United States. This provided an international forum for defence science matters and, more importantly, an international peer group against which the Australian defence scientists could measure themselves. On its own initiative, and with information provided through NAMRAD, Australia could now invest in creative new equipment and weapon development. Some successes in these led to major bi-lateral developments of weapons and equipment with Britain and the United States.

The smallness of the Australian military forces has always been an inhibiting factor on the manufacture of indigenously conceived weapons and equipment; for small production runs the costs per unit are naturally high, and at most times there has been a national reluctance to enter the export market. This factor together with the desire for standardization can to some extent be overcome by multi-lateral development with the larger friendly nations, and this has, in fact, been found to be so with several of the projects. In the period since the Vietnam war, projection of future requirements in defence technology has become difficult because of the difficulty of defining and agreeing on the nature of some future threat. The one item on which consensus exists is the belief that supply lines, either by air or sea, will have to be defended. This has led to a considerable strength in defence technology of aircraft detection and anti-submarine weapons and detection equipment.

A modern contribution of science to defence has been the application of analytical techniques to the evaluation of candidate weapons systems in the selection process. The capability was developed in the major weapons trials, and although it does not often produce new weapons systems, is a significant component of the total defence structure.

In the 1980s, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation continues as the second largest monolithic research organisation in Australia. Its primary raison d'etre is, of course, to enhance our defence capability. Nevertheless it has from time to time been expected to support civilian development. This it has done continually in the material sciences and in the generation of new opportunities. Some less direct 'spin-offs' are described in the last section.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Defence Science and Technology Organisation (D.S.T.O.)

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© 1988 Print Edition page 919, Online Edition 2000
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