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Japan, Australia launch defence technology projects

Japan and Australia have launched two long-term projects to research defence science and technologies.

The four-year programmes are led by Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) and Australia's Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). They include joint work on autonomous vehicles and marine hydrodynamics, with the latter linked to a previous joint project undertaken during 2015–19.

ATLA told Janes that the “multivehicle autonomy” aims to support the development of technologies that enable unmanned systems to operate in difficult terrain and threat conditions without GPS signals or map information.

The project on marine hydrodynamics and hydroacoustics aims to establish a method to gauge the noise generated by naval-platform propellers. The work follows the two countries' previous work on assessing propulsion and water resistance around submarine hulls.

The projects are led by the respective land and marine divisions of ATLA and DSTG. An ATLA spokesperson told Janes that, at present, the research projects are not expected to lead to the joint development or production of defence equipment.

However, the spokesperson added, “ATLA and DSTG aim to establish the basic technologies [to support] future equipment.”

Japan and Australia signed a defence equipment and technology transfer agreement in December 2014, eight months after Tokyo lifted a long-standing, self-imposed ban on military exports. The equipment and technology accord enabled Japan to commence defence projects with international partners.

In addition to their 2015–19 work on hydrodynamics, Japan and Australia have also previously explored opportunities for joint projects on the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft and diesel-electric submarines. The latter was linked to an unsuccessful Japanese bid to supply Australia with its locally developed Soryu-class submarine.

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