The announcement made by Minister Pyne at the official launch of VRA Systems in a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra. Following Minister Pyne’s comments, Jeff Phillips, managing director of the Varley Group, and Major General (Ret’d) Yoav Har-Even, president and chief executive of Rafael, formally signed the VRA joint venture agreement.
They were joined by Mark Sofer, Israeli ambassador to Australia, and guests from the Australian government, ADF and defence industry.
Phillips expressed excitement at the opportunities presented for Australian industry by the selection of Spike LR2, saying "The fifth-generation Spike LR2 is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities for VRA to deliver Australian sovereign capabilities, drive innovation and jobs, and create export opportunities."
Phillips noted the significance of the decision for Australian defence industry, saying this undertaking will be an Australian first. VRA combines a world leader of defence technology in Rafael with Australia’s oldest defence enterprise in Varley, which will now deliver the Spike LR2 for use by the Australian Defence Force.
In addition to the Spike LR2, VRA will deliver a range of Rafael products for the Australian market, including the Trophy active protection system for armoured vehicles; the Tamir counter-rocket, artillery and missile interceptor for short-range ground-based air defence; and the Torbuster torpedo counter-measure for submarines.
VRA’s inaugural CEO, Jacob Blitman, said, "VRA aims to maximise the proportion of Spike LR2 componentry produced in Australia and deliver through-life in service support, making use of our reachback to Rafael’s research and development network in Israel. We will employ up to 70 Australians in our local facilities with potentially hundreds more across our Australian supply chain. Australian suppliers now have the opportunity to enter Rafael’s global supply chain for the Spike family and a range of Rafael products and systems, servicing more than 30 customer nations."
Har-Even noted that the decision builds on Rafael’s 20-plus years in the Australian market, and follows a long line of similar partnerships around the world.
"Rafael’s strategy is to join with local partners that allow us to establish capability in the local market. We are extremely proud to have established the relationship with Varley, and we look forward to working with them to deliver the Spike LR2 system to the Australian Defence Force," Har-Even said.