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Technical report | A Framework to Support S&T Planning for Royal Australian Navy Capability Acquisition

Foresight Planning is a methodology to examine future possibilities across disciplines such as science, economy and society, to aid in developing policy and action to achieve a desired goal. It is not to be considered a method to forecast the future, instead, the aim of Foresight Planning is to understand the possibilities that may exist in the future and thereby facilitate planning for shaping that future. Each method in Foresight Planning is one step in providing advice for guiding policy and assisting with strategic planning innovation processes. At the commencement of a Foresight Planning exercise the requirements are nebulous, however, through iteration and the application of suitable Foresight Planning methods, the requirements become clearer and a vision established. From this vision a strategic plan can be developed. Foresight Planning, would, therefore, seem ideal for developing strategic guidance for many Australian Defence Force (ADF) capability projects. Specifically, the methodology could prove beneficial in the development of science and technology (S&T) policy and guidance for major capability acquisition.

This report presents an overview of a proposed S&T planning framework, encompassing Foresight Planning, designed to assist the development of S&T Plans for Royal Australian Navy (RAN) capability acquisition. The S&T Planning framework is an attempt to develop and apply a formal procedure that would ensure robust development of the S&T Plans and maintain consistency across RAN acquisition projects. The framework was developed in response to the 2003 Defence Procurement Review (DPR) to initiate change in the ADF acquisition process. As a result of the review, DSTO became responsible for the development of S&T Plans for ADF capability development and approval processes.

The report defines S&T Advice Capabilities (STACs) that may be used in conjunction with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) to determine the suitability of technology inclusion during a capability's acquisition phase and service life. Examples of the planning products produced by the framework for a fictitious RAN capability acquisition project are included to assist in the explanation. The S&T planning framework presented in this report focuses primarily on technology issues related to capability major systems and their acquisition, sustainment and upgrade, along with consideration of whether an appropriate S&T advice provider can be identified or needs to be developed/established to support the project.

The S&T planning framework for RAN acquisition provides a comprehensive, documented and traceable S&T process for key decision-making points during capability acquisition. However, the framework would benefit from further research examining the sensitivity of the methods, the choice of metrics and the subjective inputs provided by participants and demonstration of the framework for a more complete list of the fundamental inputs to RAN capability.


When the Australian Defence Force (ADF) identifies a capability gap an acquisition process commences, supported by science and technology (S&T) guidance. Though the S&T support requirements are governed by the needs of the acquisition project, the S&T planning process would benefit from the introduction of a framework to improve the robustness and transparency of decision making with regards to the allocation of S&T resources. This report presents an overview of a proposed framework, encompassing the Foresight Planning methodology, to assist in the identification of critical design issues; technology readiness; and research plans for critical technology areas in support of ADF capability acquisition. The iterative application of suitable Foresight Planning methods will enable the S&T requirements and vision to be established, from which a strategic S&T Plan can be developed. The aim of the proposed S&T planning framework is to provide guidance to establish a bespoke vision for each new capability acquisition and facilitate planning for the shape of things to come.


Key information


Anthony Woolley and John Wharington

Publication number


Publication type

Technical report

Publish Date

March 2012


Unclassified - public release


Science and Technology Advice, Foresight Planning, Acquisition, Capability Development