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Boeing to lead new sovereign defence manufacturing project

The Commonwealth government has tasked the prime with spearheading a new program aimed at bolstering the local manufacture of technology for defence aircraft.

The Commonwealth government has tasked the prime with spearheading a new program aimed at bolstering the local manufacture of technology for defence aircraft.

Boeing Defence Australia has been selected to lead a new $103 million Advanced Defence Aerospace Manufacturing Network announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday (21 April).

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The project – partly supported by $34 million in funding via the Collaboration Stream of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative – aims to incentivise local SMEs to manufacture, export and support the development of complete crewed and uncrewed defence aircraft.

This would involve facilitating access to global supply chains and creating an aerospace system manufacturers network by:

  • establishing new facilities, including cyber security upgrades for each project partner;
  • the procurement and commissioning of capital equipment needed to support the volume of manufacturing; and
  • introducing partners to advanced technologies and new capabilities.

Boeing’s partners are expected to include Ferra Engineering, HeliMods, Naeco, RUAG Australia, Cablex, AME Systems and JRS Manufacturing Group.

The initiative is tipped to generate approximately 400 new local jobs in Brisbane and Melbourne, and more than 1,500 jobs across the country by 2024.

“We make things in Australia and under our government’s economic plan, we are backing our manufacturing sector to create jobs and grow the economy,” Prime Minister Morrison said.

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Under our Modern Manufacturing Strategy, we are investing more than $2.5 billion to grow key capabilities and support jobs. By partnering with the private sector, we are leveraging billions more in additional investment.”

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the investment would allow Australia to build homegrown defence capabilities to help build resilience and self-reliance.

“In Queensland, that means jobs and long-term career opportunities in engineering, manufacturing, maintenance, research and much more,” he added.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price added that the Boeing-led project would help the sector “reach new heights”.

"We know that it is more important than ever to strategically invest in our defence manufacturing industry, to ensure we can deliver the necessary capability for our defence force to keep our nation safe,” Minister Price said.

Separately, the Commonwealth government has invested $24.6 million under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Translation Stream across eight Australian companies.

This includes:

  • $8 million for Hypersonix Launch Systems (QLD) to fund the manufacture of a hypersonic target drone technology demonstrator using additive engineering;
  • $4.3 million for DefendTex Research Labs (VIC) to fund the establishment of sovereign capability to manufacture guided warheads for unmanned aircraft technologies, missiles and small arms systems;
  • $3 million for ANCA Pty Ltd (VIC) to fund the development of manufacturing cells for equipment and capability in ultra, precise CNC grinding for larger components required by the defence industry;
  • $2.1 million for Sentient Vision Systems (VIC) to fund the establishment and fit out of a new facility to manufacture ViDAR pods in Melbourne;
  • $2 million for Thomas Global Systems (NSW) to fund the development and manufacture of next-generation avionics and high integrity defence electronics;
  • $1.8 million for Craig International Ballistics (QLD) to fund the development of Australia’s first automated high pressure composite panel manufacturing line for large-format, complex ballistic product manufacturing;
  • $1.7 million for Marand Precision Engineering (VIC) to fund the implementation of a welding centre with hardware, software and ancillaries to enable the survivability of modern military platforms using high-grade ballistic steels; and
  • $1.4 million for Extel Technologies (VIC) to support the onshore manufacture of electronics sub-assemblies for Defence supply chains.

These latest announcements come just a day after the government unveiled a $238 million investment in a new defence research and development (R&D) initiative, led by the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales.

The collaboration aims to fast-track the development of 100 new defence products and capabilities, with a specific focus on autonomous technologies, hypersonics and high frequency technologies.

The Commonwealth government has pledged $50 million via the Trailblazer program, with the University of Adelaide, UNSW, and their industry partners collectively committing $188 million in co-investment.

Among the industry partners participating in the program are BAE Systems Australia, Supashock, Greenroom Robotics, and Silentium Defence.

The initiative is tipped to generate approximately 1,000 new jobs over the next four years.

[Related: New defence R&D initiative unveiled]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

Boeing to lead new sovereign defence manufacturing project
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