One of the companies likely to play a major role in developing local guided weapons is Raytheon Australia.
The company is the prime contractor for the army’s future $1.5 billion ground-based air defence system being developed under LAND 19 Phase 7B that is structured around the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, manufactured by its US parent.
It is also likely to have a role in AIR 6500, which will provide Australia with an integrated air and missile defence capability.
Local managing director Michael Ward – something of an Australian industry elder statesman – says that guided weapons are critical to Australia’s current and future military capability.
“It is important that we have capability to manufacture, support and upgrade such weapons in Australia,” Ward says.
“This serves to strengthen our supply chain and underpin our sovereign defence capability.
“An Australian capability for the production of guided weapons is also important in supporting our relationship with the United States; this was reaffirmed by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison in March and in the more recent AUSMIN discussions.
“An Australian capability would not only be providing sovereign guided weapons for the ADF but also adding resilience to the US missile supply chain.
“Raytheon Australia’s parent company, Raytheon Technologies is one of the world’s largest missile manufacturers,” Ward continues.
“Today Raytheon provides a very large proportion of ADF’s precision guided weapons. Raytheon also has a demonstrated willingness to support the establishment of sovereign production capabilities in countries that procure Raytheon weapons.
“From a local perspective, Raytheon Australia has an incredibly strong record of delivering complex programs for the ADF and recently adjusted its strategy to incorporate more significant in-country production.
“The establishment of a significant production and integration facility, our Centre for Joint Integration, earlier this year in Adelaide, is just one example of how this move to more significant in-country production is being implemented.
“Finally, Raytheon has a long history of successfully transferring IP and know-how to Raytheon Australia. This will be a critical element of establishing a sovereign guided weapons production capability.”
Asked about the priorities for which weapons to focus on, Ward says the selection of guided weapons for initial local production needs to be based on a couple of factors.
First, candidate weapons should be selected from guided weapons that are currently in inventory or planned to be in inventory. Procurement of these weapons has been driven by upstream decisions on platforms and combat systems, so logically these weapons are the ones from which we will benefit most from local production.
Following that, he says candidate weapons should be selected to provide the greatest strategic advantage. This will be, in part, driven by the nature of the weapon and, in part, by the benefits gained from augmenting existing US-based production capability and capacity.
Third, candidate weapons should be those for which production numbers warrant the establishment of sovereign capability. It is a complex thing to establish the capability to manufacture guided weapons so production quantities must justify the investment.
Ward concludes that production quantities would initially be underpinned by Australian demand but in time that could be augmented by US demand – with Australia becoming a second source of supply for the US.
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