The defence contractor is set to commence production of high-explosive rounds in Australia after securing US qualification.
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Thales Australia has confirmed it is on track to commence production of the 155mm M795 Artillery Projectile capability early next year after receiving qualification of its Australian-made TNT to military specifications from the US Department of Defense.
The production process — set to take place in Benalla, regional Victoria — is set to include the filling of steel projectile bodies with high explosive TNT, final assembly, and completion of the quality inspections.
The filled projectiles will be further assessed, and undergo a certification process to ensure they meet ADF and US military specifications.
The production of the 155mm M795 Artillery Projectiles are expected to support the broader push to build sovereign munitions capability for the Australian Defence Force and international partners.
The Australian-made TNT to be produced in Victoria includes toluene supplied by Geelong-based SME Viva Energy.
The qualification of Australian TNT follows the partnership established between Thales Australia and the US Army’s Development Command Armaments Center, aimed at establishing a sovereign manufacturing capability for 155mm M795 HE projectiles in Australia.
The deal has enabled technology transfer of US intellectual property to Australia, supporting the local development of a range of munitions, including the establishment of sovereign capability for BLU-126 and BLU-111 aerial ordnance.
“I am immensely proud of our highly skilled Australia team who have worked for over three years, working through the rigorous certification processes that have enabled the creation of a true sovereign manufactured munitions capability in Australia,” Dion Habner, general manager of Thales Australia’s sovereign munitions business, said.
“This is an essential step in increasing Australia’s industrial capability in advanced manufacturing and self-reliance, which is vital to delivering a capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force.”
Thales Australia has been ramping up investment in its local manufacturing capability.
The company recently announced a $6 million investment in the Commonwealth-owned Mulwala facility in regional NSW, aimed at supporting the development of sovereign guided weapons manufacturing capability.
The funds will be used for new large-scale preparation and mixing equipment, expected to deliver a 500 per cent increase in the size of rocket motors that could be manufactured at Mulwala.
This is in addition to Thales Australia’s $6.5 million investment in the first phase of an industrial plan to upgrade its Lithgow Arms facility in NSW.
This is set to include the establishment of a modern manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of weapons systems for the ADF, industrial partners and export customers.