Commercialisation of Defence Technology: Redwing: A Case Study

April 24, 2018



The asymmetric stage in Afghanistan has destabilised the tools of conventional warfare, with improvised explosive devices (I.E.D), being one of greatest threats to allied soldiers and Afghan citizens alike. Over half of soldier deaths  are from I.E.D.’s. Mr Smart and his team at DST are responding directly to this shift in warfare through the research and development of I.E.D countermeasure systems.


In 2010, the first prototype of a personnel protection device, light enough to carry, was supplied directly from DST to the Australian Defence Force. The protection device detects I.E.Ds within proximity to users and  greatly improved freedom of movement. The technology has been so successful that since its inception no personnel have died from a radio controlled I.E.D.


Following the success of the prototype rolled out in 2010, Mr Smart and his team were charged with another problem solving task. Developing a similar functioning technology, with a dramatically diminished budget and for a foreign police force to be able to easily use.


This started the Redwing project. Redwing is a technology similar to the one rolled out by Smart and the DST to protect personnel from exposure/contact to the dangers of I.E.D’s. A new solution to an existing problem, it had to primarily be designed for a foreign market, this meant the design had to be clear not only in application but cost effective enough for the Afghan police department to purchase.


By late 2014, 194,00 were manufactured and by the end of 2017 distributed to Australian Defence Force personnel, the Afghan police force and other allied constituents. The tactical benefits have been recognised by the international community with the United Nations acknowledging the efficacy of the technology.


The saliency of the work undertaken by the DST and the way in which it operates is heightened in the age of the information technology revolution that is the 21st century. With the emergence of tech such as Redwing there is of course a response to such tech from the opposing side, this makes the work of institutions such as DST even more important.

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