Current publications

Recent publications about Defence Technology Agency and our research.

Mixed Reality training method: performance benefits for routine vehicle maintenance tasks

Mixed Reality (MR), as a training medium, has been trialled as a method to train New Zealand Army automotive technician apprentices in routine vehicle maintenance tasks. It is important to understand how this might impact the task performance of apprentices. This paper investigates the topic and addresses the research question: How does a MR training method influence productivity and quality of a routine vehicle maintenance task conducted on military vehicles? To address this topic, a pilot study was conducted that compares the performance of eight automotive technician apprentices who were tasked with conducting a routine vehicle maintenance task using the extant or current training method, and MR training method. Apprentices completed pre-training and post-training surveys to provide their perceptions of the experience. The results showed that there is no significant difference between the extant and MR training methods with regards to apprentice’s task performance times. However, the MR training method led to fewer errors during the training task. Additionally, participants agreed that MR is easy to use, but would not replace the need to have a qualified instructor on hand.  While the small sample size limits the extent to which these finding can be generalised, the contribution of this work is in demonstrating, as a proof of concept, that MR training methods can be a viable option for training routine vehicle maintenance tasks and that it can offer advantages that are not currently observed through the use of the extant training method.

Read this report [PDF: 637 KB, 27 pgs]

Development of Soft-kill Tactics for Anzac Frigate Self Defence

This report describes procedures and software tools developed at DTA for finding soft-kill tactics to be employed by Rheinmetall’s Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) aboard NZ’s upgraded Anzac frigates. MASS is a trainable system capable of launching chaff rounds out to 2000 m with the purpose of distracting or seducing incoming anti-ship missile (ASM) threats. The frigates’ combat management system (CMS) is supplied with basic tactics but needs comprehensive doctrine to provide a fully automated response to different ASMs. This study uses BAE’s Ship Air Defence Model (SADM) to test soft-kill scenarios which can then yield settings for the CMS. SADM is capable of modelling the Anzac frigate’s on-board systems such as MASS and search radar in some detail. DTA has developed third-party software tools to control SADM and allow parameter sweeps or optimization schemes to be applied in order to determine optimum chaff launch configurations. We find that, for the missile selected in calm weather conditions, a single chaff round is sufficient to provide close to 100% frigate protection via distraction against an incoming ASM. In this case, the chaff round should be launched slightly behind the ASM’s incoming trajectory relative to the frigate’s heading. The ASM will then see the chaff cloud before the frigate and remain locked on while the frigate sails ahead out of harm’s way. The effectiveness of a single chaff round is reduced in the presence of wind but survivability of the frigate can be brought back to close to the original high levels by making a correction for wind.

Read this report [PDF : 2.5 MB, 51 pages]


Integration of NZDF Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems into NZ civil airspace

Integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) into civil airspace is a complex problem that is being investigated within New Zealand and internationally. For the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) seamless access to civil airspace would enhance RPAS operational capability for military training and non-military tasks, whereas current operational restrictions are likely to limit or preclude the use of RPAS for certain roles.

This report identifies the current issues associated with the integration of NZDF RPAS into New Zealand civil airspace. This is based on a DTA review of public domain information, which illustrates the underlying principles and assumptions currently put forward by various stakeholders involved in addressing RPAS integration in New Zealand and internationally.

Technological solutions and other airspace integration enablers are also identified and discussed.

Read this report [PDF: 1.54MB, 66 Pages]

The Measure of a ship’s character

This article, published in Navy Today, looks at DTA’s work on developing a software tool that examines patterns of normal vessel movements and highlights anomalies which can then be looked at more closely.

To read more about this work see page 29 of Navy Today – Issue 207 [PDF: 2.42 MB, 36 pages]

RNZN photo of HMNZS Wellington in Antarctica

Polyurethane sandwich panel systems for ship hull reinforcement

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) regularly patrol the waters of the Sub-Antarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean in support of the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries. Operation in these waters includes the potential presence and threat from ice, and RNZN Offshore Patrol Vessels are protected against ice with a belt of thicker steel about the waterline. Excessive pitch and roll of vessels can however result in thinner and more vulnerable areas of the hull being exposed to sea ice.

Defence Technology Agency were tasked by the RNZN to evaluate whether there was potential to enhance the level of ice protection on vessels through the use of a polyurethane cored steel faced sandwich panel system that has recently been offered by commercial suppliers. This report summarises mechanical testing undertaken to explore the viability of this type of sandwich panel system. Testing included shear, flexure and impact testing across the likely temperatures that the system would be operationally exposed to, as well as fatigue and corrosion testing.

Results of the tests indicate that a polyurethane cored steel faced sandwich panel system is a viable solution for hull reinforcement, and raised a number of recommended questions that should be answered by any prospective supplier of a solution to the RNZN.

Read this report [PDF: 2.58 MB, 31 pages]


Blended learning

Blended learning is not new but the explosion of technology enabled learning
techniques since 1990 is new and transforming the possibilities of delivering learning
solutions in the military. This paper first defines what is meant by blended learning,
then looks at the various learning options and the problems with implementing them.
It concludes that most of the difficulties can be overcome but that a top down
approach is needed to provide the impetus, infrastructure and direction to realise the
business benefits. It recommends that a strategic plan be developed to provide the
NZDF integrated learning environment necessary to achieve the Future 35 vision.

Read this report [1066 KB, 48 pages]

Learner profile survey 2015 – key facts

This report is the result of a survey of NZDF personnel, both uniformed and
civilian, during September and October 2015. It forms part of a five-year study and
follows on from surveys in 2013 and 2014.The aim of the study is to understand
how NZDF personnel use technology for training, learning and recreation both at
work and at home. The Survey was sent out by email to 2949 recipients and 1188
(40%) responded. The results provide a snapshot of the use of technology in the
NZDF and indicate that technology could be used more effectively to deliver
competent people to front line units and to provide more effective support to them
once they are there.

Read this report [PDF: 996 KB, 29 pages]

Image of DTA Digital Image Correlation Capability report cover

DTA Digital Image Correlation Capability

Digital Image Correlation (DIC) is a technique for optically acquiring full-field
measurements of the displacement and deformation of a surface. This is achieved
by observing the surface as it deforms, typically using one or more conventional
monochrome digital cameras, and comparing the surface’s deformed and
undeformed states using optical tracking.
The Defence Technology Agency’s Applied Vehicle Systems group has now
developed an in-house DIC system. The wide array of variables that determine the
measurement precision achievable when using DIC makes it difficult to identify a
specific metric quantifying this system’s accuracy. However, a conservative estimate
is that deformation measurements can be obtained with a precision of 1000
microstrain or better in most cases. Greater precision may be achievable in a
number of instances, particularly for cases involving smooth strain fields where
significant smoothing can be applied to the measured displacements without
detrimentally affecting the results.
This system is now available to enhance the Applied Vehicle Systems group’s
structural analysis toolset, providing a full-field strain measurement capability for
New Zealand Defence Force platforms. In contrast to commercial DIC systems, this
in-house system can be fully customised and adapted to suit individual New Zealand
Defence Force requirements.

Read this report [PDF: 1.3 MB, 34 pages]

Blast Noise of the L119 Light Gun

Blast noise measurements were carried out on the New Zealand Army L119 Light
Gun by the Defence Technology Agency in June 2015 at Exercise Brimstone. The
purpose of the assessment was to determine the sound pressure levels near the
gun crew and estimate the effectiveness of a number of hearing protectors. The
acoustic pressure was measured slightly forward of the loader’s position, approximately
three metres back from the muzzle at zero barrel elevation, one metre
from the gun centreline, and 1.6 metres from the ground. The peak sound pressure
level of the muzzle blasts was in the range 173–176 dB, the A-weighted
sound exposure level was 137–146 dB, and the A-durations were 0.65–2 milliseconds.
Double hearing protection (earmuffs and earplugs) should reduce the
peak sound pressure level to 138 dB, which is compliant with the Health and
Safety in Employment Act.

Read this report [PDF: 1.58 MB. 39 pages]

Colour vision and aircrew selection

Colour vision requirements for aircrew

Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) is a condition that results in individuals being unable to distinguish differences between certain colours. The condition is most commonly inherited, affecting approximately 8% of men and a smaller proportion (0.5%) of women. Exclusion of applicants with CVD reduces the number of potential candidates available for selection as aircrew.

This report presents and discusses available literature which indicates that aircrew with CVD are able to operate safely and effectively. The evidence raises questions about the suitability of current clinical test regimes as a means of restricting or disqualifying applicants. Consistent with the findings of NATO and the practice of some regulators, it is instead recommended that a practical or operational check, to identify practical handicaps as a result of CVD, is a more relevant and fair method by which to determine whether an applicant can safely crew an aircraft.
Read this report [PDF: 936 KB, 52 pages]

Cover of DTA Report 402

Trial Firefly – Building a Space Situational Awareness Capability

The aim of Trial Firefly was to observe a number of satellites in low Earth orbit using widefield imaging from two different locations, in order to determine the space trajectory and compare the measurements with the predictions based on the standard two-line element sets.

The trial was originally planned to cover the shallow atmospheric re-entry of the Automated Transfer Vehicle 5, but that had to be changed as the re-entry
plan was subsequently altered by the European Space Agency. The entire activity was proposed as an initial step in building a new Space Situational Awareness capability at the Defence Technology Agency.

A preliminary analysis of the trial data has shown that relatively inexpensive equipment can be used to detect satellites at moderate altitudes and the results confirm that this type of observation can be used to improve the current orbital models

Read this report [PDF: 3.89 MB, 69 pages]

Cover of DTA's Strategic Plan

DTA Research, Science and Technology Strategic Plan

This strategy has been developed with the aim of better supporting capability delivery through an approach that aligns research, science and technology with Defence priorities, and targets capability development and acquisition where there is potential to realise significant research, science and technology value.

Read this report [PDF: 1.95MB, 20 pages]

Review of NZDF research into fastener hole cold working

The New Zealand Defence Force has undertaken a number of research activities in the area of Hole Cold Working. Some of this work was undertaken as a result of the C-130 upgrade programme, while others were undertaken as student projects at local Universities. In addition the Defence Technology completed a significant internal NZDF programme. The NZDF has been able to demonstrate a signifiant durability improvment as a result of the Hole Cold Working which will likely reduce the occurrence of unscheduled repairs of fatigue cracking in the C-130 fleet.

Read this report [PDF: 728kb, 26 pages]

New Zealand Army dismounted soldier power requirements

December 2013

This report investigates the power requirements of electronic equipment that New Zealand soldiers carry into theatre. It analyses different soldier roles and units and evaluates foreign soldier power requirements to estimate possible future NZ Army dismounted energy requirements.

Read this report[PDF: 268kb, 30 pages]


The challenge of maritime domain awareness for New Zealand

March 2013

This presentation, by DTA’s Director, Brian Young, was given at the ‘Global Challenge, Global Collaboration’ conference in Brussels.

The discussion topic was ‘Maritime surveillance – the benefits of global collaboration to promote good stewardship and safe conduct in the world’s oceans.’

View this presentation [PDF: 1.2MB, 16 pages]


Learner Profiles report

Learner profiles: RNZN personnel, their use of technology and the potential for self-directed learning – a pilot study

December 2012

Report on a pilot study conducted with Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) uniformed personnel to understand how they access and use technology for training and recreation, at work and at home. The study also assesses the potential of RNZN personnel to undertake self-directed learning.

Read this report [PDF: 1.3MB, 57 pages]

Learner profiles – detailed results [PDF: 544kb, 152 pages]

Initial study on expendable acoustic countermeasures for torpedo defence

Initial study on expendable acoustic countermeasures for torpedo defence

December 2012

Report on the initial study into the effectiveness of expendable acoustic countermeasures on passive acoustic homing torpedoes.

Read this report [PDF: 1.3MB, 57 pages]

Bamiyan Province climatology and temperature extremes in Afghanistan

Bamiyan Province climatology and temperature extremes in Afghanistan

April 2012

Report on the temperature extremes encountered in Afghanistan and an assessment of how climatic conditions may affect Kahu UAS operations.

Read this report [PDF: 1.48Mb, 37 pages]

RNZAF logo

Wake up to helicopter wake

January/February 2012

This article describes the issue of helicopter wake turbulence, especially in respect to the NH90 helicopter. From DTA’s research, the risks are now better understood, including how aircraft can avoid wake upsets.

Wake up to Helicopter Wake [PDF: 512Kb, 1 page]