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Defence force set to benefit from innovations coming out of Lot Fourteen

Posted February 5, 2024

From AI addressing military vehicle corrosion to potential life-saving tech helping to streamline aircraft pre-flight planning, the innovations are coming thick and fast from Lot Fourteen-based consultancy, Ascent Professional Services.

Ascent is a 100 per cent Australian veteran-owned and operated specialist consultancy providing technical, scientific, and engineering expertise to the Department of Defence, Australian Space Agency and Defence prime contractors.

Established in 2016, the company has been growing year on year with 53 now on the team, and engineering graduates accounting for 25 per cent of the workforce.

With a strong engineering consulting base, the team are investing in research and development to create scalable solutions to the challenges their clients face daily.

Ascent is considering expressions of interest from investors in Europe, US and closer to home to accelerate the development of two new products AeroATLAS and CorroVision.


A pilot-focussed application

One of the biggest challenges facing military pilots is the time-consuming and labour-intensive process of loading aircraft and maintaining aircraft weight and balance.

In contrast to civilian operations, the capabilities for air-to-air refuelling, weapons carriage, paratroopers and stores expenditure are frequent causes of weight changes in a military setting, meaning aircraft weight and balance can be the difference between mission success or failure.

A poorly loaded aircraft can also cause instability, putting the lives of the crew and passengers at risk.

Ascent’s new technology, AeroATLAS, is a platform-agnostic weight and balance calculation tool designed for military applications. Enabling accurate inputs, even in high-pressure environments, the tech captures all the regulatory requirements and best practice of multiple aviation regulatory bodies, delivering a solution that mitigates inflight safety hazards, alleviates pilot workload and ensures mission readiness.

Created by Ascent’s experienced and expert team, Michael Isherwood, CEO of Ascent says that AeroATLAS is a “single plug-and-play military-specific solution, ready for use by any platform, in any environment, under any regulatory system.”

From left: Gennaro DeMarco, Engineer,
Darren Roles, Strategic Partnerships Manager,
Trent Simcock, Engineer,
Ascent Professional Services.

The AI/ML solution for corrosion management

Corrosion is major problem for the global defence industry, causing considerable damage to military vehicles and requiring an estimated $30 billion a year on repairs and remediation.

Ascent’s new tool, CorroVision, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse data from a variety of sources, including environmental conditions, maintenance records, and historical data.

This data is then used to generate predictive models that can identify areas of potential corrosion and predict when maintenance is needed.

Isherwood says Ascents new tool can help to improve corrosion management in several ways.

“It can help to reduce the cost of maintenance by identifying areas that need to be repaired before they fail,” he says.

“It can also help to improve safety by identifying areas of potential corrosion that could pose a hazard to personnel. In addition, the technology can help to improve fleet readiness by ensuring that aircraft are properly maintained and that they are available when needed.”

Ascent’s new tool aims to allow for the transfer of scientific research into real-world maintenance environments, reducing costs and improving response times.

The platform is expected to optimise the workforce by enabling users to directly engage with scientific knowledge; re-skilling and up-skilling workers in the process. CorroVision is expected to help the defence industry by redeploying specialists to other areas and allowing for better planning and decision-making at higher levels.

The company’s footprint is also expanding into the export market with its recent announcement of an Australia-first deal to perform key engineering support roles on the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) new MC-55A Peregrine electronic warfare aircraft.

Under the new contact, Ascent will perform aircraft structural integrity and propulsion systems integrity management on the Peregrine platform, a highly modified version of the Gulfstream G550 business jet.

The contract is with L3Harris in the US, with Ascent working on the US side of the Foreign Military Sales case, delivering to L3Harris which in turn delivers the aircraft, by way of the US Air Force, to the RAAF.

Ascent has been located at Lot Fourteen for more than two years.

Being based within an Australian innovation district has made the journey for the company smooth sailing, as it starts commercialising its new innovations.

Ascent CFO John Giffard says that being based at Lot Fourteen has played an important part in the company’s continuing growth and success.

“The location, facilities, and the idea of Lot Fourteen itself have all contributed to the benefits of being based here,” he says.

“We’ve been able to facilitate international visitors, who change where they’re staying because they want to visit the innovation district and our premises.

“It’s been a great spot for us, and we’ve found that it’s been an important part of building our reputation, credibility and growth, both in South Australia and beyond.”

Trent Simcock, Engineer, Ascent Professional Services


Read more stories like this on Issue_02 of Lot Fourteen’s Boundless Magazine

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