Document Type



Edith Cowan University


School of Business and Law


Strategic Policy Grants Program of the Australian Department of Defence


Seet, P-S., Klarin, A., Jones, J., Johnstone, M., Wilk, V., Meek, S., O'Brien, S. (2024). Expanding Australia’s Defence Capabilities for Technological Asymmetric Advantage in Information, Cyber and Space in the Context of Accelerating Regional Military Modernisation: A Systemic Design Approach: Strategic policy grant program final report. Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia


Introduction. The aim of the project was to conduct a systemic design study to evaluate Australia'sopportunities and barriers for achieving a technological advantage in light of regional military technological advancement. It focussed on the three domains of (1) cybersecurity technology, (2) information technology, and (3) space technology.

Research process. Employing a systemic design 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 828 professionals across STEM, space, aerospace, defence/ law enforcement, and ICT, aimed to assess the impact, deployment likelihood, and developmental timelines of the identified technologies. Finally, five experts were interviewed to help elaborate on the findings in the survey and translate them into implications for the ADF.

Findings. Key findings revealed significant overlaps in technology clusters, highlighting ten specific technologies or trends as potential force multipliers for the ADF. Among these, cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and optimisation and other algorithmic 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 cybersecurity and information technologies, followed by space technologies. The research also suggested partnerships that Australia should develop to keep ahead in terms of regional military modernisation.

Implications. To maintain a competitive edge, there is an urgent need for investment in the development and application of these technologies, as nearly all disruptive technologies identified for their potential impact, deployment/utilization likelihood, extensive use, and novelty for defence purposes are needed in the near-term (less than 5 years – cybersecurity and information technologies) or medium-term (less than 10 years – space technologies). In line with this, technology investments should be prioritized as follows: Priority 1 includes Cyber Security of critical infrastructure and optimization algorithms; Priority 2 encompasses Unmanned and autonomous systems and weapons, Deep/Machine Learning, and Space-based command and communications systems; and Priority 3 involves Industry 4.0 technologies, Quantum technology, Electromagnetic and navigation warfare systems, Hypersonic weapons, and Directed energy weapons. At the policy level, underfunding, bureaucratic inertia and outdated procurement models needed to be addressed to enhance agility of innovation. More critically, Australia needed to come up with creative ways to recruit, train and retain human capital to develop, manage and use these sophisticated technologies. Finally, in order to maintain a lead over competitors (China, Russia, Iran, North Korea) in the regional military technology competition, the survey and interviews indicate that Australia should continue its military technology alliances with long-standing partners (US, Europe, Israel), broaden its collaborations with more recent partners (Japan, Singapore, South Korea), and establish partnerships with new ones (India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Pacific Island nations).

Conclusion. This study sheds light on the future direction for the ADF and Defence in general, underscoring the importance of strategic investments in up-and-coming technologies. By pinpointing strategic voids, potential partnerships, and sovereign technologies with high potential, this report acts as a roadmap for bolstering Australia’s defence capabilities and safeguarding its strategic interests amidst regional technological changes.