Defence is set to receive new deployable health facilities under acquisition and support contracts with Saab Australia worth about $370 million. 

The facilities will provide a holistic deployable health capability, including three fully equipped field hospitals – two for Army, and one for Air Force.

It will also equip close health teams with Role 1 and Role 2 light-manoeuvre systems to support combat units.

The new system consists of more than 500 modules, of 60 different types, that will provide health functions including pathology, intensive care, treatment and holding, resuscitation, surgery, primary dental care, imaging and environmental health.

The Deployable Health Capability Project Director, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Tate, said the project would ensure the ADF stayed up to date with international military health standards.

“In the past, we have had to either rely on contracted or coalition partners’ support to provide higher levels of health capability,” he said.

“The new deployable health capability will enable the ADF to task, organise and operate in line with the NATO role structure, and enable Australia to take on health support leadership roles.”

In the past, we have had to either rely on contracted or coalition partners’ support to provide higher levels of health capability.

Rollout will start in 2023 with delivery of Role 1 facilities, including treatment, staging and holding, environmental health and training simulation modules.  

Rollout is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2024 when Role 2 enhanced health facilities, air and land evacuation platform integration and Role 3 specialist modules are introduced. 

The Role 3 modules will provide enhanced diagnostic capabilities to conduct surgeries, including maxiofacial, neurosurgery and ophthalmology.

Lieutenant Colonel Tate said the deployable health capability system would be a first for Defence.

“The modular, whole-of-system approach that we have taken means that we will have a mutually supporting capability that can be tailored to meet operational requirements,” he said.

The capability also integrates critical-support infrastructure, including the shelter, power reticulation and waste management systems.

Saab will support and upgrade the system throughout its life and provide training, particularly in the early stages after delivery. 

“There will be an integrated plan to develop ADF trainers that will enable self-sufficiency within the ADF training system,” Lieutenant Colonel Tate said.

“Throughout the life of the capability, we will have specialist training services that we can provide through the contractor.”

Saab will also relocate its global Deployable Health System Design and Development Centre from Europe to Australia.