The multi-million-dollar upgrade to the NSW-based facility has officially commenced.
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A sod turning ceremony has marked the commencement of a $6.5 million upgrade to the Thales Australia-owned Lithgow Arms facility in regional NSW.
This first phase of the industrial plan aims to establish a modern manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of next generation weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, industrial partners and export customers.
This builds on $70 million in investment by Thales Australia, which has included new equipment and product development over the past decade,
The sod turning ceremony was attended by local, state and federal government officials, including Paul Toole, Deputy Premier of NSW and member for Bathurst; Andrew Gee, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister for Veterans Affairs and member for Calare; and senator for NSW Jim Molan.
“This is a momentous occasion for both Thales and Lithgow today. The $6.5 million investment by Thales in a new facility here in Lithgow shows that Thales is going to be in Lithgow for a long time.,” Deputy Premier Toole said.
“Today marks the future, and a new era that not only secures existing advanced manufacturing jobs here in Lithgow, but will continue to create new jobs into the future.
“This is a significant driver of the local economy because investments like this will ensure Lithgow has a strong future, and will go from strength to strength as we move forward.”
The upgraded facility is set to integrate new digital technologies, and high precision manufacturing techniques in a bid to achieve the company’s Industry 4.0 ambitions.
These technologies are expected to include 3D printing, automated electro-plating, and other metal treatment capabilities.
The facility will also be designed with a new purpose-built live firing test and evaluation capability to support systems integration of existing and new technologies for developmental advanced weapons systems like the Digital Battle Rifle, while also supporting R&D into other digitised small-arms and weapon system platforms.
Corry Roberts, vice president, land at Thales Australia & New Zealand, noted the significance of the project milestone.
“Patient long-term investment in this factory and the skills of the people that work here over the past decade, has clearly demonstrated our long-term commitment to growing and maintaining an enduring, sustainable and resilient sovereign industrial capability for the Australian Defence Force in regional NSW,” Roberts said.
“Our $6.5 million investment in this new facility is just more evidence of that.
“We are proud of our heritage and our people – and we are excited today to be celebrating the commencement of a new era for the Lithgow factory, and the continuation of delivering truly Australian, truly sovereign weapons and weapons systems capabilities now, and into the future.”
The commencement of construction comes just weeks after Lithgow Arms partnered with Fuller Global and Outdoor Sporting Agencies (OSA) in a bid to ramp up distribution of its products in the global marketplace.
The partnership builds on Lithgow Arms’ six-year relationship with OSA, a wholesale distributor of the local manufacturer’s sporting rifles in Australia.
Lithgow Arms currently exports its CrossOver and Woomera firearms to 14 countries around the world, with the new partnership anticipating growth in overall sales of 300 per cent within the first two years.
[Related: Lithgow Arms to expand global footprint]