Document Type



Edith Cowan University


School of Business and Law / School of Science


Strategic Policy Grants Program of the Australian Department of Defence


Seet, P-S., Klarin, A., Jones, J., Johnstone, M., Cripps, H., Sharafizad, J., Wilk, V., Suter, D., Marceddo, T., 2024. Opportunities and Challenges posed by Disruptive and Converging information technologies for Australia's future defence capabilities: A Horizon Scan. Strategic Policy Grant Program Final Report. Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia.


Introduction: The research project's objective was to conduct a comprehensive horizon scan of Network Centric Warfare (NCW) technologies—specifically, Cyber, IoT/IoBT, AI, and Autonomous Systems. Recognised as pivotal force multipliers, these technologies are critical to reshaping the mission, design, structure, and operations of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), aligning with the Department of Defence (Defence)’s offset strategies and ensuring technological advantage, especially in the Indo-Pacific's competitive landscape.

Research process: Employing a two-pronged research approach, the study first leveraged scientometric analysis, utilising informetric mapping software (VOSviewer) to evaluate emerging trends and their implications on defence capabilities. This approach facilitated a broader understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of defence technologies, identifying key areas for further exploration. The subsequent survey study, engaging 415 professionals and six experts across STEM, law enforcement, and ICT, aimed to assess the impact, deployment likelihood, and developmental timelines of the identified technologies.

Findings: Key findings revealed significant overlaps in technology clusters, highlighting 11 specific technologies or trends as potential force multipliers for the ADF. Among these, Cyber and AI technologies were recognised for their immediate potential and urgency, suggesting a prioritisation for development investment. The analysis presented a clear imperative for urgent and prioritised technological investments, specifically in Cyber and AI technologies, followed by IoT/IoBT and autonomous systems technologies. The recommended strategic focus entails enhancing cyber security of critical infrastructure, optimising network communications, and harnessing smart sensors, among others.

Implications: To maintain a competitive edge, the ADF and the Australian government must commit to significant investments in these priority technologies. This involves not only advancing the technological frontier but also fostering a flexible, innovation-friendly environment conducive to leveraging non-linear opportunities in technology innovation. Such an approach requires a concerted effort from both public and private sectors to invest resources effectively, ensuring the ADF's adaptability and strategic overmatch in a rapidly changing technological landscape.

Conclusion: Ultimately, this research illuminates the path forward for the ADF and Defence at large, highlighting the need for strategic investments in emerging technologies. By identifying strategic gaps, potential alliances, and sovereign technologies of high potential, this report serves as a blueprint for enhancing Australia's defence capabilities and securing its strategic interests in the face of global technological shifts.