Defence has signed a $37.4 million contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to start manufacturing guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) missiles from 2025.
CAPTION: A United States Army M142 high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) fires in Puslatpur, Indonesia, during Exercise Super Garuda Shield 2023. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.
Under the Guided Weapons Production Capability (GWPC) Risk Reduction Activity contract, Lockheed Martin Australia will commence fit-out in preparation for a state-of-the-art guided weapons production capability at Defence Establishment Orchard Hills in western Sydney.
The objective of GWPC Risk Reduction Activity is to have Australian involvement in the manufacture of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) All Up Rounds (AURs) and Launch Pod Containers (LPCs).
Under the contract, an initial batch of GMLRS missiles will be manufactured in Australia, an important first step towards establishing domestic missile manufacturing on a larger scale.
It will also facilitate the transfer of technical data from the United States, establish processes for engineering certification and begin to build the technical skills of an Australian workforce.
Minister for Defence Richard Marles said these were important milestones that would see Australia gain the technology needed to establish a sovereign industry, providing opportunities for a highly skilled workforce.
Defence will also acquire precision-strike missiles (PrSM), which can engage targets out to 500km.
PrSM and GMLRS missiles can both be fired from HIMARS launchers.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said this step would strengthen the ADF’s ability to protect Australia and its interests.
“These activities are part of the $4.1 billion investment that will enable Defence to acquire more long-range strike systems and manufacture longer-range munitions in Australia,” Mr Conroy said.
“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.”
Executive Vice President Missiles and Fire Control at Lockheed Martin Tim Cahill said the company was excited about this strategic endeavour to bring advanced factory technology to Australia.
“Lockheed Martin will transfer the technology and service delivery as is in many of our US advanced weapon factories – accelerating the development of manufacturing capability in Australia for Lockheed Martin weapons,” Mr Cahill said.
Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Warren McDonald said he welcomed the announcement.
“As a GWEO strategic partner, we are proud to be awarded this important defence contract,” Mr McDonald said.
“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.”
In readiness for making the GMLRS AURs and LPCs in Australia, a team of Lockheed Martin Australia engineers will be sent to the US for specialised training at Lockheed Martin’s guided-weapons production facilities.