Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy and Boeing have announced an expanded industry footprint and opportunities for Australia’s defence industry as part of the Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Deed for the Apache Program with the Boeing Company.
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Minister Conroy made the announcements at the Australian International Airshow 2023 at Avalon, Victoria, where both the Apache and the Ghost Bat are on display for the Australian public — the Ghost Bat for the first time — which will see Boeing engage Australian companies to supply parts for the planned AH-64E Apache fleet and all new Apache attack helicopters.
The deed will underpin Australian industry contribution to the production of the Apache fleet, creating new opportunities, expected to bring millions of dollars to local defence industry companies.
These Apache helicopters will be equipped with some of the most advanced technologies, sensors and equipment, making them one of the most formidable helicopters for the Australian Defence Force.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy welcomed the impact this deal would have for Australian industry, saying, “The Albanese government is ensuring that opportunities are maximised for Australian defence industry as we move to build the Defence capability our nation needs for its future security.”
Boeing said Australian companies Cablex and Thomas Global Systems, respectively, will manufacture cabling, and design and manufacture cockpit avionics components for the global fleet of Apaches. For the Australian fleet of Apaches, four companies — Cablex, Ferra, Axiom Precision Manufacturing and Mincham — were selected to supply wire harnesses, electrical panels, vertical spar box, machined parts, fairings and composites.
The supplier contracts are part of an agreement signed by Boeing and Defence Australia — the agreement also acknowledges the benefit of the Australian Global Supply Chain (GSC) Program that delivers export opportunities into Boeing’s supply chain.
“I was proud to attend the Avalon Airshow today as we work closely with defence industry to deliver critical capabilities in support of Australia’s national interests. It’s wonderful to see strong Australian industry involvement in producing the Ghost Bat — the first Australian-designed, developed, and manufactured military combat aircraft in half a century,” Minister Conroy said.
Major General Jeremy King, head of Defence’s Joint Aviation Systems Division said, “Defence has worked diligently with US Army, Boeing, and local industry to ensure we are providing the best capability for the Australian Defence Force.
“We look forward to continuing to work together through this agreement signed today to seek further opportunities for local industry involvement in both the production of Australia’s Apaches and the broader global fleet product and support activities,” MAJGEN King added.
These production opportunities set a foundation for longer term Australian industry support to the Apache program, enabling the growth of the rotary wing industry and embedding Australian companies in global supply chains.
In another significant milestone for Australian defence industry, the number of Australian suppliers involved in building Australia’s uncrewed autonomous aircraft, the Ghost Bat, has increased by almost 60 per cent, from the first aircraft build.
LAND 4503’s program of delivery aims to support the Australian Army and is designed to contribute to the creation of the modernisation and development of a “networked and hardened” Army.
The acquisition is broken down into three delivery stages, beginning with projected IOC in 2026 and FOC in 2028, including:
- Up to 24 aircraft would be based at one primary location and another five are intended at a training location. The aircraft fleet may also be co-located in one primary location; however, this is yet to be determined.
- IOC for LAND 4503 is based on a squadron of up to 12 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating a deployable troop of four aircraft, continued force generation of four aircraft, and an initial build-up training element of four aircraft. IOC will be supported by trained personnel and support systems.
- FOC for LAND 4503 is based on a regiment of up to 24 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating multiple concurrent deployed forces of up to squadron size. FOC will also be supported by a mature training system of up to five aircraft, with trained personnel and support systems.
The government has brought the LAND 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement program forward and aims to acquire a proven and mature, off-the-shelf manned armed helicopter to deliver armed reconnaissance effects in the close and deep contested battlespace in support of the Australian Defence Force.