In an Australian first, Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions is set to produce and export ammunition for the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
FILE PHOTO (10 December 2018): One of the first two Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning Joint Strike Fighters flies overhead RAAF Base Williamtown on delivery day. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) has announced that, subject to Department of Defence’s approval, it will begin production of 25mm frangible armour piercing (FAP) projectiles at the federal-government owned Benalla plant in Victoria.
The deal marks the first expansion of the RNM joint venture beyond its $60m artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough, Queensland.
Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions is a global multinational weapons manufacturer, while Australian-owned NIOA is the leading supplier of weapons and munitions to the Australian Defence Force.
The proposed load/assemble/pack (LAP) line at Benalla will be capable of producing 20mm to 35mm medium-calibre ammunition.
Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions aims to serve as a secondary source supplier to the US government for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
Chairman of the board at RNM Werner Kraemer said that with the Maryborough project on track, it was time to expand the footprint and capabilities of the joint venture company in Australia.
“We are totally committed to this joint venture and the Australian market,” Mr Kraemer said.
“By committing to develop this medium-calibre production capability here in Australia, we will not only create local jobs and build a supply chain, we will also be developing a proven and sustainable export market.”
NIOA managing director Robert Nioa said that the project would enable development of a true sovereign capability in medium-calibre munitions in Australia.
“The establishment of this new capability will be a first for Australian industry,” Mr Nioa said.
“On the back of a 100 per cent private sector investment, we will ensure that future munitions supplied to the ADF will be made right here in Australia.”
Subject to Defence approval, the LAP line is scheduled to be installed in the first half of 2021 and be at full production by September that year.