A $37.4 million contract has been signed between Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia, paving the way for domestic manufacture of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) missiles from 2025.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, defence said the contract would facilitate technology and skills transfer from the United States and enable an initial batch of missiles to be made – “an important first step towards establishing domestic missile manufacturing on a larger scale.”
The federal government plans to increase local output in 2026 following initial production of GMLRS missiles.
The missiles can be fired from High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS, pictured) launchers, also made by Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed said that the contract $37.4 million (excluding GST) Guided Weapons Production Capability (GWPC) Risk Reduction Activity contract will see it commence fit out in preparation for “a state-of-the-art guided weapons production capability at the Defence Establishment Orchard Hills in western Sydney.”
Warren McDonald, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement that “as a GWEO strategic partner, we are proud to be awarded this important defence contract. The GWPC Risk Reduction Activity contract will provide a mechanism for swift knowledge and technology transfer and serve as a risk mitigator and pathfinder to future manufacture in Australia of the Lockheed Martin suite of guided weapons.”
The company said the objective of the Risk Reduction Activity is to have Australian involvement in the manufacture of GMLRS All Up Rounds (AURs) and Launch Pod Containers (LPCs), with a live fire demonstration of AURs to take place in in Australia from 2025.
Last year defence industry minister Pat Conroy said the government would consider plans for domestic manufacture of guided weapons and explosive ordnance, and that it had committed to GMLRS missile manufacture as part of $4.1 billion over the forward estimates for the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise.
“As well as acquiring HIMARS from the US, the Government is taking important steps towards domestic missile manufacturing, aiming to both build up Australia’s defence industry, protect our supply chains and contribute to easing global demand,” said Conroy in a statement on Tuesday.
The federal government added that it will also acquire Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM), which can engage targets out to 500 kilometres and also be launched via HIMARS.
“This important first step towards the establishment of domestic guided weapons manufacturing in Australia will complement the acquisition of long-range precision strike capabilities and strengthen the ADF’s ability to protect Australia and its interests,” added Conroy.
“This work is a clear demonstration of the ongoing collaboration between Australia and the United States on Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise – a key outcome of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in July 2023.”
Picture: HIMARS launcher (credit Lockheed)
Editor’s note: story was edited to add comment from Lockheed Martin Australia