BAE Systems Australia and European-based MBDA have announced a collaboration agreement that will support Australia as it establishes its sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) capability.
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The industrial collaboration is a direct response to the federal government’s objective to deliver an expanded guided weapon capability to the Australian warfighter by introducing a diversified source of supply to the Australian Defence Force that will markedly enhance the local GWEO ecosystem.
The collaboration will leverage MBDA’s status as a world-leading missile provider and BAE Systems’ local experience and expertise. Delivery of weapon system capabilities through the collaboration will develop enduring Australian industry capability through work package transfer, product assembly, and testing.
The initial areas of collaboration will focus on the weaponisation of BAE Systems’ STRIX Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) to meet the Army, Navy, and Air Force capability needs, alongside the development of a skills and capability initiative to upskill and build capacity within the Australian GWEO ecosystem.
The collaboration will draw on BAE Systems’ established advanced manufacturing footprint and network of trusted industry partners, which delivers a range of GWEO capabilities, including the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) subsystems and Nulka subsystems operating on NATO, US, and Australian warships. Building on this, the partnership can also support agreements from UK–Australia bilateral discussions, AUKUS dialogue, and export opportunities to regional partner nations.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Officer Ben Hudson welcomed the collaboration agreement, saying, “BAE Systems is delighted to announce a major industrial collaboration with MBDA to establish an enhanced guided weapons capability in Australia.”
MBDA has a proud history of supporting Australian defence with sovereign missile capabilities, particularly through the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) program for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that established software testing and hardware-in-the-loop facilities at Edinburgh Parks, South Australia, and deep maintenance facilities at Edinburgh Parks then at Defence Establishment Orchard Hills, NSW.
“Our intent is to establish an enduring sovereign guided weapons capability that will leverage MBDA’s world-leading guided weapons portfolio and combine with BAE Systems Australia’s GWEO heritage and expertise. This collaboration will enable access to the Australian innovation ecosystem that will deliver the next generation of missile capability to the ADF and allied armed forces globally. Indeed, this collaboration opens the door to future guided weapons being manufactured in part, or in whole, by Australian industry,” Hudson expanded.
MBDA group business development director Paul Mead built on the comments from BAE, saying, “Working with BAE Australia to identify and deliver weapon system capability opportunities is an important step for MBDA supporting the growth and sustainment of Australia’s GWEO industrial capability.
“We look forward to working with BAE Australia and engaging across Australian government and industry on co-development of future weapons systems and components and delivery of increased sovereign capability, manufacture, and support of guided weapons,” Mead added.
The collaboration will be underpinned by MBDA’s diverse product portfolio across the air, land, and sea domains, industrial capabilities, expertise and access to global markets, opening up the potential for future GWEO exports from Australia.
BAE Systems is Australia’s most versatile defence and security company. From air and maritime sustainment to shipbuilding, they have a long and proud heritage of providing advanced defence technology which protects both people and national security, keeping critical information and infrastructure secure.
MBDA is a joint venture of the three European leaders in aerospace and defence — Airbus (37.5 per cent), BAE Systems (37.5 per cent) and Leonardo (25 per cent) — and has a multinational footprint spanning France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK that employs 13,000 people.