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Downer awarded Defence Innovation Hub contract

May 2, 2022 • 1 min read

Downer’s defence business – Downer Defence Systems (DDS) – has been awarded a $3 million contract through the Defence Innovation Hub to partner with several Australian companies to deliver the Muskito capability as the Prime Systems Integrator for the project.

“Muskito is an integrated Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) concept that will use autonomous systems and machine learning to detect threats above the ground and below the surface, and then flag them to an operator via a visual interface,” said Downer Defence Systems’ Executive General Manager, Andrew Foster.

The Defence Innovation Hub contract will see DDS working as the Prime Systems Integrator with Australian industry partners Urban Circus, EPE, and Insitu Pacific to develop a Muskito prototype and then deliver a technology demonstration for Defence.

“We are excited to work with the Commonwealth and our industry partners to develop the Muskito system. IEDs and other related threats have been the scourge of Australian and allied service personnel in their operations overseas in recent decades, and we are grateful to be given an opportunity to play a role in helping to mitigate that threat,” Foster said.

“This contract underscores the Government’s commitment to working with industry to create genuine and sustainable sovereign industrial capability. The future of the defence industry is about being self-reliant and creating enduring employment opportunities for Australians,” he said.

Downer’s local partners are excited to work on the project.

Dr Ben Guy, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Circus, said: “The future of work is to work visually. As an Australian owned and operated global leader in 3D visual systems, we are delighted to be working with Downer and Defence with this important work.”

EPE’s Managing Director, Warwick Penrose, is looking forward to working with industry partners. “EPE is very pleased to partner with Downer and the Defence Innovation Hub on the Muskito program, which aligns perfectly with our focus on the delivery of Force Protection solutions,” said Penrose. “The Muskito Program will harness EPE’s CIED domain expertise, technology partners and innovative engineering to deliver a sovereign Australian capability that will protect ADF personnel deployed in non-permissive operational environments.”

Insitu Pacific’s Managing Director, Andrew Duggan, is determined to reduce casualties from IEDs. “During the time we supported the ADF with unmanned aerial ISR services in Iraq and Afghanistan, our team witnessed the destructive and devastating effects of IEDs,” said Duggan. “As a company focussed on driving innovation to solve complex problems, we welcome the opportunity to be part of this Australian team to develop a world-class counter improvised threat solution.”

Downer Defence Systems’ Andrew Foster adds, “We’ve got a strong line-up of industry partners who are all champing at the bit to do our part to protect Australian personnel, create jobs for Australians and to generate growth in the economy.”

The roles of each company are:  

  • Downer Defence Systems will act as Prime Systems Integrator and implement its Machine Learning capabilities in the detection of surface and subsurface threats, and provide overall project management to integrate the technology into the Muskito Mission System 
  • Urban Circus will develop the system that converts the sensor data into a visual reference for the operator
  • Insitu Pacific will deliver the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will integrate with the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to provide tactical data
  • EPE will draw upon its Force Protection, CIED and Route Clearance domain expertise to support the initial conduct of a concept of operations workshop. EPE will supply innovation and integration support aligned to the provision of the HDT Hunter Wolf UGV, the Cobham Ground Penetrating Radar and a number of other technical systems. EPE is committed to providing agile, timely and innovative solutions to improve Australian Industry Capability.