RADM Lee Goddard discusses Bluebottles in March ADM Magazine

10 March, 2020

Kevin Chan

Excerpt from Page 56 of the Australian Defence Magazine's March 2020 edition.

What can industry do to support MBC?

"I think probably three things," RADM Goddard reflected. "First of all, really understand our future threats, risks and that like for like thinking and capability will not help". New and improved versions of our current capabilities will not work. The adversary needs to either be watched or think they're being watched. That does not mean they need to have a manned plane fly over them. They could have an unmanned autonomous system with AI just out there communicating, talking to every single vessel and just saying this is Australia, we can see you, hopefully you're well, hopefully you'll have a nice day. If you're an adversary, in many cases that'll make you behave differently because you know now Australia is watching you.

"Another example would be innovative solutions. In terms of unmanned solutions like the Ocius Bluebottle comes to mind. The Bluebottle is a low cost per unit, basic but fit for purpose, and they could be sitting out in our EEZ like a net. Every time a fishing vessel crosses over, that Bluebottle communicates or pings. It could be either clandestine, communicating with MBC and we go get the threat or it can actually communicate and say you've crossed over the EEZ, just so you know, we think you have just broken Australian law, computer generated an AI directing system.

"We are often offered solutions by industry which are probably the wrong scale. The ABF and ADF clearly differ. The ADF needs very high-end assets which can then be scaled down. The ABF does not necessarily need that; they need constabulary law enforcement type assets.

"In future capacity building in the region with Pacific Island countries as an example, I would rather a partner country have 10 systems which are basic balloon radars than an expensive complex single system. It just pops up for a week or so and provides a detection capability and information that is actionable. After seven days it just disappears. It could be a cheap, environmentally disposable solution. Not a billion-dollar solutions, a million-dollar solution; more reflective of scalable regional capacity building requirements, " RADM Goddard said.

While Defence has the Centre for Defence Industry Capabilities (CDIC) as the 'front door' to the organisation in terms of industry engagement, the ABS as the raise train, train and sustain the organisation for Home Affairs have no such avenue at this time. However there is a good chance that the organisation will make use of the already established Defence Innovation Hub as a potential Special Notice capability manager/sponsor for their needs.

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