DST timeline

1907 - Cecil Napier Hake appointed Chemical Adviser to the Commonwealth Department of Defence (Australia's first Defence scientist). Hake conducts his research from the Victorian Government Explosives Department Laboratory in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

1908 - Mr Marcus Bell is appointed as Assistant Chemical Adviser. On the recommendation of Hake the Commonwealth Government acquires land on the site of the old Maribyrnong Racecourse and construction begins on a Government explosives factory. Hake also recommends Mr AE Leighton be appointed Manager.

1909 - Leighton commences as Manager of the new Government Explosives Factory at Maribyrnong.

1910 - A dedicated Commonwealth Chemical Adviser's Laboratory (Australia's first Defence Science Laboratory) begins operation in the bluestone guardhouse at the south entrance of Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.

1911 - Hake retires from public service and is succeeded by Marcus Bell.

1912 - The manufacture of explosives begins at the new Maribyrnong Factory.

1916 - The Chemical Adviser's Laboratory is relocated from Victoria Barracks to Maribyrnong closer to the centre of explosives production.

1922 - Chemical Adviser’s Laboratory became the Munitions Supply Laboratories (MSL) of the Munitions Supply Board.

1939-40 - Aeronautical & Engine Research Test Laboratory established at Fishermans Bend as part of the CSIR Division of Aeronautics.

1940-41 - Salisbury Munitions Factory built in South Australia.

1946 - A laboratory was established in Finsbury, South Australia (later known as Woodville North when the suburb name was changed) as a branch of Defence Research Laboratories.

1947 - Long Range Weapons Establishment (LRWE) formed in Salisbury, South Australia to support guided weapons facility at Woomera.

1948 - MSL changes its name to Defence Research Laboratories.

1949 - Fishermans Bend laboratory transferred from CSIR to the Department of Supply & Development; renamed Aeronautical Research Laboratories (ARL). Australian Defence Scientific Service established, incorporating LRWE and the Defence Research Laboratories.

1949 - Laboratory established in Alexandria, NSW as part of Defence Research Laboratories to undertake research in physical metallurgy and metallurgical chemistry areas.

1949 - Three new laboratories formed in Salisbury - High Speed Aerodynamics Laboratory, Propulsion Research Laboratory and the Electronics Research Laboratory, collectively known as the Chemistry & Physics Research Laboratory.

1950–1962 - Alf Payne and W.W. Johnstone, Aeronautical Research Laboratory, lead a pioneering research program into the fatigue behaviour of aircraft structures. Extending over a period of 12 years, 222 Mustang aircraft wings were tested. The research was the most extensive series of fatigue tests of a full-scale structure ever undertaken and the results were used as an authoritative reference by the aeronautical industry.

1953 - Defence Research Laboratories changes name to Defence Standards Laboratories.

1955 - LRWE and all the Salisbury laboratories amalgamated to form the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE).

1956 - The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Experimental Laboratory established.

1958 - Dr Warren’s demonstration model of black box flight recorder received enthusiastically in Britain where the device taken for further development. Subsequently, English Ministry of Aviation announces that the recorder should be carried on all planes, at least for recording instrument readings.

1958 - The Army Food Research Laboratories were formally established at Scottsdale in Tasmania. Later absorbed into DSTO.

1962 - Joint Tropical Research Unit (JTRU) established in Innisfail, Queensland and operated jointly with the British Ministry of Defence.

1966 - First Ikara production version enters service on HMAS Derwent.

1968 - Scientific advice on F-111 to the Royal Australian Air Force commences at Fishermans Bend. Over the years, this has included structural integrity testing, bonded repair research, durability and damage tolerance analysis. DSTO’s expertise on life assessment and repair continued till the withdrawal of the aircraft in 2010.

Early 1970s - Exploiting new computer technologies, scientists at Maribyrnong develop original ‘rabbit ears’ Australian Army Disruptive Pattern camouflage designs to match the Australian terrain. Following successful trials, Australian Army adopts design for use in Vietnam.

1971 - T-VASIS landing system adopted as the international standard.

1972 – Dr Alan Baker and his team at Aeronautical Research Laboratories, Fishermans Bend, begin pioneering research and development into use of composite bonded repair technology to prolong fighter aircraft life. DSTO becomes recognised as world leader in the technology.

1972 - ARL transferred to the Department of Manufacturing Industry.

1974 - As a result of Defence restructuring the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO) is created by integrating the Australian Defence Scientific Service, the in-house R&D units of the Armed Services and the Science Branch of the Department of Defence. Defence Standards Laboratories becomes the Materials Research Laboratories (MRL).

1975 - Official transfer of all Defence research and development (R&D) activities to DSTO in the Department of Defence.

1977 - Joint Tropical Trials and Research Establishment established (JTTRE), merging JTRU and Tropical Trials Establishment situated at Cowley Beach in Queensland.

1977 - MRL, Woodville North transferred to CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Science and Technology.

1978 - WRE reorganised to become Defence Reserach Centre Salisbury (DRCS) with four laboratories - Weapons Systems Research Laboratory (WSRL), Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), Trials Research Laboratory (TRL) and Advanced Engineering Laboratory (AEL).

1980 - First production Barra presented to the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner for Australia. (25 February) Marks the beginning of deliveries of Barra sonobuoy to United Kingdom and Australian Air Forces and Navies.

1983 - Advanced Engineering Laboratory, Salisbury, in conjunction with Adelaide’s Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital staff, develop Aeromed Retrieval Unit for evacuation of premature and sick babies from outlying areas in the state.

1984 - RAN Research Laboratory transferred to WSRL.

1985 - Materials Research Laboratories, Alexandria, NSW transferred to Army.

Mid-1980s - David Forrester, Aeronautical Research Laboratories, Fishermans Bend, continues work into helicopter gearbox failure and becomes the first person to apply time frequency analysis to machine fault diagnosis. Wins international recognition.

1987 - Five year restructuring of DSTO laboratories begins. New Surveillance Research Laboratory created and DRSC’s Electronics Research Laboratory reorganised. RANRL transferred to MRL and re-named.

1989 - Control of Cowley Beach was returned to the Army and Innisfail became MRL, Qld.

1992 - Invention of Starlight, a unique, world-first system that allows users of secure computers to access insecure networks, such as the Internet, without compromising their own security — Dr Mark Anderson, principal inventor.

1992 - DSTO’s Dr Tom Ryall and Dr Albert Wong conduct pioneering research and develop FAST (Focal-plane Array for Synchronous Thermography), an infrared camera system designed for analysing stresses in metal and composite structures. First of its type in the world.

1992 - The UK-Australia Tropical Research agreement terminated.

1991 - WSRL abolished to leave four laboratories in DSTO.

1993 – Royal Australian Navy accepts Laser Airborne Depth Sounder (LADS) for operational use.  LADS system ahead of any other comparable system in the world.

1994 - ARL and MRL merge to form the Aeronautical & Maritime Research Laboratory (AMRL). Surveillance Research Laboratory and Electronics Research Laboratory merge to form the Electronics & Surveillance Research Laboratory (ESRL), leaving only two laboratories in DSTO.

1995 - Full-scale testing of major components of F/A-18 Hornet commences at Fishermans Bend under The International Follow-On Structural Test Project, (IFOSTP) a joint venture between Canada and Australia. On completion, 24,000 hours of test ‘flying’ in a specially designed rig that duplicated the stresses and loads that an F/A-18 Hornet would experience in real flight had been carried out.

1996 – Shapes Vector, a prototype system to detect intrusions into computer networks, invented — principal inventor Dr Mark Anderson.

1996–1997 - DSTO's Brian Rebbechi carries out work into gearbox condition analysis on the Aircraft Mounted Auxiliary Drive (AMAD) gearbox of the F/A-18. His work leads to the redesign of the gearbox ultimately saving Royal Australian Air Force and United States Navy millions of dollars in operational costs.
1997 - DSTO Salisbury complex rationalised and new ESRL Headquarters (incorporating the Knowledge Systems building) officially opened.

1999 -  Nulka in full production for Royal Australian Navy, United States Navy and Canadian Armed Forces.

2000 - The P-3 Service Life Assessment Program, a major international collaborative effort, involving DSTO commences at Fishermans Bend. The program involves full-scale fatigue tests and associated analysis on the complete P-3 Orion aircraft. The data provided will enable the RAAF to safely manage the structural integrity of the fleet until the planned withdrawal date of 2018.

2002 - DSTO restructured, resulting in three laboratories: Platforms Sciences Laboratory, Systems Sciences Laboratory and Information Sciences Laboratory.

2002 - DSTO, along with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Canadian Forces, wins the prestigious International Congress of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) von Karman Award for International Cooperation in Aeronautics for its international program assessing the fatigue life of the F/A-18 A/B Hornet aircraft.

2004 - H A Wills Structures and Materials Test Centre officially opened at Fishermans Bend.

2004 - CBRN functions transferred from Maribyrnong to Fishermans Bend.

2004 - Torpedo Systems Centre and Maritime Experimentation Laboratory opened at DSTO Edinburgh

2006 - DSTO celebrates 50 years of defence science in Sydney.

2006 - DSTO and US Air Force sign a $70 million agreement to advance research in hypersonic flight. The HIFIRE project, an eight-year program, is one of largest collaborative ventures between DSTO and United States. University of Queensland and University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy also involved.

2007 -  DSTO celebrates the centenary of defence science and technology in Australia. The Commonwealth Government appointed the Victorian Inspector of Explosives, Cecil Napier Hake as the Chemical Adviser to the Department of Defence in 1907. Hake was our first Defence scientist and went on to establish the first Defence laboratory ( Chemical Adviser's Laboratory) in 1910 at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. 2007  also marks the diamond jubilee of the DSTO Edinburgh site, where the Long Range Weapons Establishment was formed in 1947 to support the new guided weapons facility at Woomera.

2009 - DSTO and US Air Force complete first successful launch under the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) Program, confirming that the test vehicle turned onto the correct heading and elevation for re-entry into the atmosphere as designed.

2012 - DSTO, along with the US Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Research & Technology and the University of Queensland, wins the prestigious ICAS von Karman Award for International Cooperation in Aeronautics for collaboration on the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) Program.

2015 - DSTO changes its name to the Defence Science and Technology Group or DST.