(Updates with comment from Varley Rafael Australia.)

Jobs and new business opportunities worth more than A$40 billion are expected to flow over the next 20 years as Australia looks to bolster its advanced missile stocks while also becoming a global top 10 exporter. That’s the view of Australian business and government after Raytheon Australia today unveiled one of the world’s largest air and missile defence precincts at Mawson Lakes in Adelaide.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment by Raytheon will lead to a tremendous boost in defence capability. He used the opportunity to release a Defence Industry roadmap that outlines how greater use can be made of our domestic skills base. Raytheon Australia will use the facility to integrate missiles, vehicles and radars for the A$1.5 billion LAND 19 Phase 7 project. Morrison continued by saying Australia has to stand up on behalf of liberal democracies – and if necessary lead the way. He said that Australia does not rely on nations such as the US but that we stand on our own feet when it comes to our defence.

Michael Ward, managing director of Raytheon Australia.

“Raytheon Australia has heavily invested in this new precinct in response to the Australian Defence Force’s increased focus on joint integrated capabilities,” said Raytheon Australia Managing Director Michael Ward. “The facility has been designed to help defence meet its needs of today as well as its greater challenges of tomorrow,” he said.

As one of the most significant defence industry precincts in Australia, the Centre for Joint Integration will strengthen opportunities for collaboration between the ADF, its allies and Australian industry to deliver fully integrated capabilities. The precinct will also continue to build the nation’s sovereign industrial capability and drive the next phase of Raytheon Australia’s ambitious export strategy.

“In this facility, we will work with defence and industry in sophisticated systems integration laboratories, as well as experimentation areas and training rooms,” Ward said. “These spaces will ensure we can work with our customers and partners to deliver fully integrated sovereign capabilities and also train the workforce of the future. This precinct will be home to Australia’s premier integrated air and missile defence capability,” he said.

Raytheon’s new facility. (PHOTO: Raytheon)

The Centre for Joint Integration has two main components: the Core Facility, which includes training and systems integration laboratory space and office accommodation; and the Integration Facility that includes the company’s first major production facility in Australia. This includes 6,500 square metres of light manufacturing, integration, depot repair and warehousing space. It will serve as the dedicated space to deliver Army’s short-range ground-based air defence program – LAND19 Ph7B including assembly of components manufactured by local suppliers. This will create long-term Australian jobs and secure sovereign capability in the country. As well as Raytheon Australia, it is understood that the Department of Defence is also considering other companies as partners for sovereign missile development including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Kongsberg.

Launch of rocket to test hypersonic speed at more than five times the speed of sound, Woomera. (PHOTO: Dept of Defence)

More than 200 of Raytheon Australia’s South Australian employees are already based in the new premises, delivering on current ADF programs including LAND19 Ph7B and the AIR3024 Woomera range remediation program. Eventually, the precinct will be home to 300 jobs across multiple future integrated air and missile defence, naval and ranges programs.

“The Centre for Joint Integration is a further demonstration of Raytheon Australia’s enduring commitment to South Australia,” Ward said. “This precinct will deliver more than a decade of jobs and sovereign capability for Australia through future growth,” he said. “We expect that it will be a magnet for highly skilled employees to make the move to South Australia.”

Meanwhile, the Australian government announced a A$111 million sustainment contract with Raytheon Australia to support the jointly developed Raytheon-Kongsberg National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAM). This contract will support the Australian Defence Force’s new Short Range Ground Based Air Defence Capability, part of the LAND 19 Phase 7B program. The announcement builds on the official opening of Raytheon Australia’s new Centre for Joint Integration in Mawson Lakes, South Australia.

The multi-million dollar investment will create hundreds of new defence industry jobs for generations of Australians. “The Centre for Joint Integration will contribute to the development of some of Australia’s most important defence capabilities,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said. “It will serve as Raytheon’s main site for the manufacture, assembly and systems integration in Australia and will play a pivotal role in supporting and sustaining the new Short Range Ground Based Air Defence Capability.”

The Centre for Joint Integration will also be the primary support facility for the new air defence capability over its 20-year life. The A$111 million support contract will provide the initial five years of sustainment, with an option to extend to the full 20 years.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the new contract was part of the government’s A$270 billion, 10-year boost to Defence and defence industry, creating economy-wide benefits. “The construction of the Centre for Joint Integration has created 200 construction jobs since the sod was turned in March 2019 and Raytheon expects that a further 300 ongoing jobs across the defence industry will be created by the facility,” Price said.

Support activities for the new air defence capability will begin at the centre in 2022, in preparation for the NASAM’s introduction into service with Army in 2023. Raytheon expects to provide ongoing employment for at least 35 staff in support of the Short Range Ground Based Air Defence capability. “We already recognise Raytheon’s outstanding contribution to the Royal Australian Navy’s capabilities in South Australia,” Price said. “This new facility will not only build on that foundation, but now also deliver and support critical capabilities for the Australian Army.”

Mark Burgess, managing director of Quickstep.

News of the government’s plans were met with scores of approvals from Australian businesses. Composite maker Quickstep said the government’s plans “will create extensive opportunities across the Australian supply chain, generating high-value engineering and production jobs within a projected $40 billion enterprise over the next 20 years”. “It is very encouraging to see the Morrison government continuing to invest in the development of genuine sovereign capability, building on the existing strengths of the Australian industrial base and creating generational programs, comparable to the F-35, that will further develop and grow industry capability and job creation across Australia” said Mark Burgess, managing director and CEO of Quickstep.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins (PHOTO: Thales Australia)

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said the Australian manufacture of guided weapons was a key element of Australian self-reliance in long range strike and deterrent capability. It would also drive the development of local supply chains linking advanced manufacturing capabilities, research agencies and high tech SMEs. “Thales Australia provides core industrial capabilities for guided weapons production including manufacture of high performance propellants and explosives for warheads, solid fuel rocket motor manufacturing and associated R & D and support services,” Jenkins said. “These critical munitions manufacturing capabilities are delivered by Thales Australia and our suppliers through the Commonwealth owned facility at Mulwala. Scaling up production of military-grade rocket propellant, high explosives, solid fuel rocket motors and boosters from Mulwala will be essential to achieve the ADF’s goal.

Robert Nioa, managing director at NIOA.

The CEO of Australian-owned defence prime NIOA has welcomed the government’s commitment to invest in domestic guided missile production, saying it will boost jobs and shore up the nation’s sovereign industrial capabilities. Robert Nioa says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement today to prioritise the A$1 billion development of a new high-tech weapons production facility was a sign of the growing strategic importance of defence manufacturing. “This commitment by Canberra to projects that strengthen and grow Australia’s defence industries is both encouraging and necessary for the future of our national security,” Nioa said. “The Coronavirus crisis along with changes in the Indo-Pacific strategic environment have shown that now more than ever we need to build upon our defence capabilities and sovereign industrial base. This is a tremendous opportunity to make Australia a world leader in the production of advanced military systems, creating jobs and skills that stay here, while ensuring that we are less reliant on global supply chains.”

Jacob Blitman, CEO of Varley.

Jacob Blitman, CEO of Varley Rafael Australia (VRA) also welcomed the government’s announcement to “accelerate the creation of a A$1 billion Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise”. VRA, a joint venture between the 135 year-old, wholly Australian owned Varley Group and RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems will deliver the SPIKE Guided Weapon system selected by Army as its Long Range Direct Fire Support Weapon capability (LR2) and is included in both the LAND400 Phase 2 and Phase 3 programs. The SPIKE LR2 is a 5th generation weapon system, already selected by some 6 nations, with an extensive Transfer of Technology (ToT) program enabling Australian industry to move into domestic guided missile production and comprehensive in service support. VRA looks forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth and Australian industry in moving forward with the SPIKE capability and delivering sovereign battlefield advantage to the ADF, the company said.

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Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.

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