Holiday defence industry news briefs – stories you might have missed


Canberra reaffirms nuclear submarines will be built in Australia

The federal government has reaffirmed that Australia will announce a decision to construct nuclear powered submarines locally in the first quarter of this year. Asked about concerns by US lawmakers that Australia’s needs could stress American supply chains, defence minister Richard Marles said Australian industry would be contributing industrially whether it chose a US submarine as its preferred one, or a submarine from the United Kingdom. Marles said: “We have said that we will build the capacity in Adelaide to build nuclear-powered submarines…This is a really exciting opportunity for Australia.” The Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would announce the ‘optimal pathway’ for the construction of the submarines this quarter. This would encompass technology issues as well as building a capacity of skills in the Australian workforce.

New missile systems, manufacturing opportunities for Defence

Defence has signed a contract with Kongsberg to deliver the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which will be employed on the Hobart Class destroyers and Anzac Class frigates, replacing the ageing Harpoon anti-ship missile on those ships from 2024. The NSM contains leading-edge technology that will provide Royal Australian Navy ships with a powerful maritime strike capability. General Manager of Kongsberg Defence Australia John Fry said: “To assist with the delivery and support of current and future acquisition programs, we are increasing our presence in Australia with a new facility at Mawson Lakes, South Australia. In addition to this we have also commenced engaging with Australian suppliers to discuss opportunities to deliver this key capability to the ADF.” Defence will also acquire the land-based, long-range, surface-to-surface High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which includes launchers, missiles and training rockets. The HIMARS system, which is playing a critical part of Ukraine’s battle with Russian invaders, will be in use by 2026-27, providing the Australian Army with a significant capability boost. Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Warren McDonald said: “Lockheed Martin has been the leading designer and manufacturer of long-range, surface-to-surface precision strike solutions for more than 40 years. The Lockheed Martin developed HIMARS will provide Defence with unmatched mobile land-based firepower.”

DroneShield receives order for drone detection

DroneShield has received an $11 million purchase order to supply several different types of DroneShield counterdrone/C-UAS equipment to a government agency customer. To be delivered by mid 2023, the order is subject to receiving relevant export approvals. The latest order follows another $11 million purchase order received from a different government in December. CEO Oleg Vornik said: “As we move into repeat $10 million plus orders, DroneShield has arrived at its inflection point…Our processes are scaled up and ready for this step change in supply chain, production and deployment.” The latest buy included an annual subscription payment. DroneShield also announced it had delivered all Contractual elements of an Artificial Intelligence Computer Vision System (ACVS) programme to the Australian Department of Defence under a Phase 2 Defence Innovation Hub programme. The programme resulted in improvements to DroneShield’s optical/thermal AI DroneOptID engine, as well as development of a ground-breaking multi-Sensor Fusion Artificial Intelligence (SFAI) engine. The latter is expected to be a core part of DroneShield’s Command-and-Control system, DroneSentry-C2, in 2023.

Lockheed Martin boosts F-35 readiness in deal with BAE Systems

Lockheed Martin has awarded a contract worth more than $1.6 million to BAE Systems Australia to establish a regional warehouse to sustain F-35 fighter jets. The warehouse will be co-located with Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown in New South Wales, and will store replenishment spares for F-35 operations in Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Lockheed Martin Australia Chief Executive Warren McDonald said the facility would increase F-35 operational resilience for Australia and regional F-35 operators, including U.S. forces deployed in the Indo-Pacific. “The regional warehouse will create approximately 20 immediate jobs as part of a growth path to more than 500 long-term F-35 sustainment jobs in future years.” BAE Systems Australia Managing Director of Defence Delivery, Andrew Gresham said: “I am delighted that we are expanding our contribution to the F-35 program through the activation of the Indo-Pacific regional warehouse. It helps to secure the region as a nationally important aerospace hub.”

Opposition questions closure of Naval Shipbuilding college

The federal and South Australian Liberal oppositions have questioned the planned closure of the Naval Shipbuilding College will next month, with 35 job losses. Liberal senator Simon Birmingham questioned why the college, close to the Osborne naval shipyard, would be closed without a replacement identified. According to ABC online, he said: “Because we know one of the biggest risks to successful naval shipbuilding in Australia are workforce challenges.” SA Trade Minister Nick Champion said a new contract would fill the gap in the provision of workplace planning and job matching capabilities. The college does not perform direct training activities.

Picture: Kongsberg/naval strike missile

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