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Future Maritime Surveillance Capability

Watch Australian Border Force leaders discuss the Future Maritime Surveillance Capability Project that will provide the next generation maritime surveillance capability to protect the Australian border.


Future Maritime Surveillance Capability

Assistant Commissioner Kingsley Woodford-Smith, Close Support Command: So the Department has commenced the Future Maritime Surveillance Capability project to deliver the next generation of maritime capability to ensure that we can respond to current and emerging threats to Australia.

Narrator: Australia needs a comprehensive and effective surveillance capability as the task is vast and complex.

Rear Admiral Peter Laver, Commander Maritime Border Command: Australia's Maritime Domain encompasses nearly 12 percent of the Earth's oceans surface. It stretches from the complex tropical waterways to our north to those of the deep Southern Ocean. The Maritime Border Command mission is critical to protecting Australia's economic health and the security of our communities.

Narrator: Our current understanding of future capability needs tells us it is probable that the existing Australian maritime surveillance system will not be capable of meeting changes in the threat environment that are anticipated in the future.

Rear Admiral Peter: Civil maritime security threats will be involving more complex and likely to be more severe.

Narrator: The FMC is expected to provide a balanced and cost effective collaborative surveillance capability that leverages defence capability and other government agencies in the maritime domain where efficiencies can be realised. It will introduce a new approach to the current surveillance system provided by fixed and rotary wing aircraft maritime radar systems and surveillance satellite services and the supporting integrated surveillance management system. It will provide surveillance and required support and sustainment elements to support the intelligence informed risk based prioritisation of effort that the Australian Border Force requires to meet government direction.

Assistant Commissioner Kingsley: It is not trying to identify any particular capability so it's not necessarily about a plane it's not about a satellite it's not about a radar. It may well be, but it's about how those different capabilities all come together to form a system for us to be able to take on take civil maritime surveillance across our area.

Narrator: To the maximum extent possible the capability will be integrated into and interoperable with defence and other government agency capabilities and seek to introduce algorithmic analysis and machine learning to minimize the impact of big data on system users. The project team will consult with industry to understand the potential technological solutions and capability sets available and will consider options for maritime surveillance scoping and risk mitigation activities will occur from 2018 to 90 to identify potential capability opportunities. These activities may include trials of technology.

Assistant Commissioner Kingsley: I think next generation is about looking forwards look beyond what we've currently got now to see what's out there in the market. We know that industry is changing every day. We know that technology is changing every day. We know we've got new emerging threats so how can we use that new technology to actually respond to those kind of illicit activities that we've seen coming to Australia right now.

Narrator: The project plans to conduct a formal request for information from industry in 2018 to 19 to seek information on technology and commercial options before finalizing an acquisition strategy. This acquisition strategy will determine the approach to market methodology and timeframe for procurement. Current planning will see the project deliver capability to the Australian Government from 2023. Any queries in relation to the department's future capability requirements for maritime surveillance should be directed to FMSCproject@homeaffairs.gov.au.

The Department of Home Affairs has commenced the Future Maritime Surveillance Capability (FMSC) Project that will provide the next generation maritime surveillance capability to counter current and emerging civil maritime threats to Australia. 

This project will deliver a scalable and sustainable solution that will address emerging threats and will be implemented to ensure no gap in capability.

This project will provide surveillance capabilities that enable timely and effective deterrence, prevention and response operations to protect Australia’s borders and exercise sovereign rights.

This project is critical to maintaining secure borders and will contribute directly to the prosperity, security and unity of the nation.

Request for Information and upcoming engagement

In October 2018, the Department released a Request for Information to inform the feasibility of the Department’s requirements and to explore potential capability options, technology, industry capacity, commercial options, and risks related to the replacement of maritime surveillance capability.

The Request for Information elicited a significant number of responses from a broad range of domestic and international companies and consortia. Overall, the level of interest and the quality of responses was very high and exceeded expectations.

Analysis of responses to the Request for Information has enhanced the Department’s understanding of potential approaches to market for any subsequent procurement activity. The FMSC project is using the analysis to inform capability and acquisition options development.

Following recent engagement across government, the Department is continuing to progress work on the project. As part of this work, the Department is conducting further engagement with industry.

The Department and the ABF will ensure a surveillance effect is maintained until new capabilities are brought into service by the FMSC project.

Scope and scale of Australia’s Maritime Surveillance Task

Australia needs a comprehensive and effective surveillance capability as the task is vast and complex.

The coastline of mainland Australia is nearly 36,000 kilometres in length. Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone extends 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline and covers 8.2 million square kilometres of ocean off Australia and its remote offshore territories and 2 million square kilometres off the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Australia also has the world’s largest maritime search and rescue region and Security Forces Area of Authority, covering over one-tenth of the Earth’s surface.

Australia’s economy is critically dependent on global trade, with 99 per cent of all exports reliant on maritime transport, making safety, security and environmental protection of Australia’s maritime domain a national security and economic imperative.

Maritime security functions are also becoming increasingly inter-connected between countries, changing the nature of Australia’s regional and global interests and relationships.

What the project will deliver

The FMSC is expected to provide a balanced and cost effective collaborative surveillance capability that leverages Defence capability and other government agencies in the maritime domain where efficiencies can be realised.

It will introduce a new approach to the current surveillance system provided by fixed and rotary wing aircraft, maritime radar systems and surveillance satellite services and the supporting surveillance information management system.

The future system will provide surveillance to support the intelligence informed, risk based prioritisation of effort that the Australian Border Force requires to meet Government direction.

Key maritime surveillance requirements

FMSC will provide key surveillance platforms and systems, mission information management and support systems that collectively perform the functions of:

  • Search
  • Detect
  • Classify
  • Identify
  • Report
  • Record
  • Track
  • Communicate 

We are looking for a capability that is integrated into, and interoperable with, Defence capabilities and introduces algorithmic analysis and machine learning to minimise the impact of big data on system users.

The capability set will need to be able to adapt to the different environments experienced in the Australian Maritime Surveillance Regions and be deployable to mainland and offshore locations to counter emerging threats.

Project structure

The project team is led by Australian Border Force and Home Affairs officers, supported by a substantial team of highly skilled personnel in specialist fields including Systems Engineering, Integration, Aerospace, C4ISR and Integrated Logistic Support.

The project is conducting a range of capability definition and risk reduction activities to support development of investment options for highly complex and integrated surveillance capabilities. The team engages with Defence and industry in order to understand potential technological solutions and capability options available, and collaborates with other Government agencies to achieve a nationally integrated maritime surveillance system.

Inquiries should be directed to FMSCProject@homeaffairs.gov.au.