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Super-efficient field trial deployment

12 July 2018
Defence Scientist Aaron Debono
Defence Scientist Aaron Debono

DST regularly conducts trials at Woomera to test the effectiveness of self-protection countermeasures for Australian Defence Force aircraft; leading to increased survivability of these platforms.This involves transporting a large amount of complex and highly sensitive equipment, with a great deal of effort needed for preparation, transport, set up and operation at the remote location.

Defence Scientist Aaron Debono thought there had to be a better way and proposed a novel solution. Debono suggested a deployable facility that could be accurately and efficiently pre-configured, easily transported and ready to roll when it arrived at the field site.

The deployable trial facility would incorporate everything needed – tracking mount, all electrical, electronic, information and communications technology, optical and cooling gas elements – into a single deployable container. Once prepared, all the trial elements could be secured by closing up the container
without disconnecting any wiring or plumbing and whilst maintaining optical alignment. This closed-up container could be shipped to the trial site and deployed by only making external connections.

Complex requirements

When he set about designing a solution, Debono came up against competing requirements from stakeholders. The physical architecture required to support these had to be flexible, easy to pack-up and easy to secure overnight on-range.

"You start with a few options, and narrow them down as you progress through design reviews," explains Debono.

The solution incorporated Defence accredited security containers with alarm systems that could store all classified items overnight. Servers could remain running but be externally disconnected so that they could be immediately operational the next day.

"The deployable facility has now been sent to Woomera every year since 2013," says Debono.

"The result is an incredibly streamlined setting up at DST, halving setup time, and also very efficient site establishment once we get to where we are going.

"There is also increased confidence in the results and a much reduced risk of on-trial failure because almost all circuits can be tested beforehand and remain undisturbed."

The potential for 24-hour operation of the classified server system allows for back-ups to take place overnight, saving significant time each day for the technical team, while reducing work and health safety risks relating to fatigue.

Debono led a multi-disciplinary team that worked with local and overseas industry for over 18 months to develop and implement the solution. He drew on previous experience with international partners to incorporate lessons learned and develop a solution that is leading edge.