Thales invests $6.5m in Lithgow arms factory


French defence contractor Thales Australia will invest $6.5 million in the first phase of a plan to redevelop its Lithgow Arms facility in regional New South Wales.

The investment will create a new manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of next generation weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, industrial partners and export customers.

To be built at the historic site of small arms manufacture, the facility will include traditional precision manufacturing and digital technologies, including 3D printing, and automated electro-plating and other metal treatment capabilities.

It will also include a new purpose-built live firing test and evaluation capability to support systems integration, which will allow accelerated research and technology development of digitised small-arms and weapon system platforms.

The new development will support the recently announced partnership with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to manufacture components for Rheinmetall to be fitted to new infantry fighting vehicles.

Thales said it had a ‘long-term commitment to growing and maintaining an enduring, sustainable and resilient sovereign industrial capability’.

Thales ANZ vice-president Corry Roberts said: “Transforming Australia’s manufacturing capability benefits Australia’s self-reliance and evolves the capability of the broader Australian advanced manufacturing sector.

“Our future systems include automated and augmented features enabled by modern networked sensors and sovereign Artificial Intelligence while the system architecture is being developed to support integration with next generation soldier systems.”

The precinct will also provide facilities to enable collaboration across research institutions, SME partners, and industrial partners to create the soldier systems and small arms of the future.

Thales Australia employs around 3,800 people directly and boasts 1,841 Australia suppliers, of which 82 per cent are SMEs.

Picture: Thales Australia

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