Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 3 2016 Contents 13
Issue 3 2016 Defence
12 Defence Issue 3 2016
T IS widely acknowledged that
technology developed for defence
organisations can be harnessed by the
civilian population. The internet, for
example, was originally deployed by the
US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency
While PyroFilm, a finalist in the Engaging
with the Edge category of the Institute of
Public Administration Australia’s Public Sector
Innovation Awards, might not have the same
far-reaching implications as the internet, it still
represents a significant technology shift for both
military and civilian applications.
Dr Ken Smit, a senior research scientist
in pyrotechnics at the Defence Science and
Technology Group (DSTG), has dedicated much
of his career to producing this breakthrough.
“PyroFilm is about developing more
advanced countermeasures to heat-seeking
missiles. It’s a multi-layered pyrotechnic film
that can be cut into strips and dispersed as a
countermeasure,” Ken says.
Current infrared countermeasures can fool
“dumb” munitions. But, with advances in
tracking technology, generation missiles may be
able to bypass them.
“With pyrotechnics, we can discharge red
phosphorus-based countermeasures, producing
airbursts and smoke pots in the water. They burn
hot, but they don’t necessarily look like a ship,”
“PyroFilm is a radically different way of
making pyrotechnics, which we believe may
be able to be used to simulate the [infrared]
signature of a ship in order to decoy a missile.
“The standard approach to pyrotechnics
production for flare pallets would be to press or
extrude a composition, which is what we use
for countermeasures and decoys, or to roll the
pyrotechnic into dough to use in fireworks.”
Thin pyrotechnics have been produced
in the past through a technique known as
physical vapour deposition, a process requiring
“If a company is going to spend a lot of
money making thin pyrotechnics, it may be too
expensive to burn them in countermeasures.
Using a potentially cheaper and safer
manufacturing technique is important,” Ken
DSTG has filed a provisional patent on a
method of making pyrotechnics that should be
safer and more cost-effective to manufacture.
“We sieve the composition powder into a
beaker containing a polymer solution. The
solution is held at only 50 degrees celsius, so
it’s a relatively safe process, without needing a
lot of equipment,” Ken says.
“When the solution evaporates from the
composition, we can extract the film and cut it
into rectangular pieces, which we call flakes.
“Because the resulting film is so thin, we can
also use it as a fuse by attaching it to double-
sided tape or, in civilian applications, it could be
used to get a flowing coloured fireworks effect,
like a waterfall.”
The method of production isn’t the only
innovation DSTG has produced within the
PyroFilm project. It is also multi-layered,
enabling difficult-to-ignite pyrotechnic layers to
be primed with easily ignitable ones.
“Having a multi-layered film that can
be dispersed to create an area effect is an
innovation within itself. It’s also able to produce
an infrared emission which is selective to a
certain wavelength,” Ken says.
“Both the area effect and the selective
infrared emission may be useful to decoy
SOME of the other Defence entries in the Institute of Public
Administration Australia’s innovation awards included:
Army Innovation Days
Army Innovation Days allow Army to define problems and
seek innovative solutions from industry in a compressed time-
frame, delivering select solutions into the hands of soldiers for
user trials within 12 months.
Online Defence Strategic Goods List Tool
The Defence Export Controls Branch assesses applications to
export goods and technology to stop the inappropriate export
of military and dual-use goods and technology. Changes in
legislation have meant more controls. To reduce the regulato-
ry burden, the Defence Export Controls Branch developed an
online assessment tool that transformed a highly technical 316-
page legislative instrument into an online search tool.
Defence Intellectual Disability Employment
Defence is committed to a diverse and inclusive work place
and Defence People Group is leading the Public Service with
its Intellectual Disability Employment Program that is aimed at
normalising the employment of people with an intellectual dis-
ability. The initiative provides meaningful employment, career
pathways, training and professional development for people
with an intellectual disability.
Mine Blast Test Beds and Reusable Blast Test Capsules
Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group’s Land Sys-
tems Division has developed a Mine Blast Test Bed standard and
reusable Blast Capsule to evaluate survivability systems. This
capability provides a repeatable alternative to whole-vehicle
testing. The Blast Capsule tests the impact of IED blasts with
regard to mine blast protection of vehicles.
Defence Science Partnerships
Developed by Defence Science and Technology Group,
the Defence Science Partnership framework is a bilateral deed
between Defence and Australian universities. It accelerates
researcher engagement, and reduces transaction time and the
need for complex agreements for each project. The deed is the
same for all universities, with a number of standardised activity
agreements sitting underneath.
Procurement Evaluation Tool
The Procurement Evaluation Tool records tender evaluation
assessments against criteria for determining value for money.
This enhances the Non-Materiel Procurement Branch’s capacity
to provide professional service to its clients.
Mission Secret Network
Mission Secret Network is a deployable IT system that allows
access to material, from unclassified to secret, in any location.
The system allows Defence, government agencies and other
national elements to distribute information in one environment.
Navy People App
The Navy People App allows access to important information
outside of the Defence Restricted Network. The app is a light-
weight application that was developed with minimal cost. The
app provides information on important aspects of Navy life and
has had thousands of downloads.
Non-intrusive Flight Test Instrumentation
Traditionally, flight tests have required permanent modifica-
tions of aircraft resulting in their removal from the operational
fleet. Air Warfare Engineers developed wireless technology to
place sensors on to aircraft cheaply and without significant
impact on the air-frame.
Corporal Sebastian Beurich
“PYROFILM IS A
WAY OF MAKING
MAY BE ABLE TO BE
USED TO SIMULATE THE
OF A SHIP IN ORDER TO
DECOY A MISSILE.”
DR KEN SMIT,
SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST IN
Dr Ken Smit, of DSTG, explains to
the judges of the Public Sector
Innovation Awards how using
PyroFilm can help defend assets.
Photo: Steve Dent
AND THE IDEAS
KEEP COMING ...
A demonstration of the
Photo supplied by DSTG
Breakthrough a cause for fireworks
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