Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has announced two major munitions contracts between the ADF and Queensland-based NIOA to support the modernisation of Army’s mortar fleet.
Minister Pyne said the Commonwealth has signed a three-year contract worth $81.6 million with NIOA of Brisbane to supply 81mm high explosive and practice mortar ammunition.
"This acquisition will allow Army to sustain its current mortar capability ahead of projects to modernise the 81mm mortar fleet with a lighter weight system," Minister Pyne said.
The 81mm supply program expands NIOA’s capability to support the ADF’s current and future indirect fires goals. NIOA is currently delivering the 155mm Future Artillery Ammunition (FAA) program under LAND17-1C2, a long term five+five+five-year contract that includes munitions integration into the Army’s M777 howitzer and AFATDS fire control system, which will culminate in a significant enhancement to the 155mm capability.
Collectively, these contracts will create 200 jobs in Brisbane and Maryborough in Queensland, and Benalla in regional Victoria. The $60 million Maryborough facility is a key component in the joint venture with German defence giant Rheinmetall.
"Delivery of products will commence in April 2019 with final deliveries planned for April 2022," Minister Pyne said.
He said the Commonwealth has also signed a contract with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems of Canada: "This is a four-year, $62.7 million deal with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems of Canada to supply 155mm high explosive howitzer ammunition for our artillery guns.
"This acquisition will allow Army to sustain its current artillery capability and support its training requirements as we move towards modernisation of the 155mm fleet under the LAND 17-1C2 Future Artillery Ammunition Project being delivered by NIOA.
"This contract has been awarded to ensure capability of the current ADF in-service ammunition is maintained, with delivery commencing April 2019."
NIOA has teamed with Day and Zimmermann in the USz to deliver the 81mm ammunition contract with the acknowledged support from the US Army Joint Program Executive Office – Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A).
Day and Zimmermann is a major provider of mortar munitions to the US government. Maintaining a national munitions manufacturing footprint across four sites, Day and Zimmermann delivers more than 250,000 mortar rounds per year for the US military and foreign allies.
NIOA managing director Robert Nioa welcomed Minister Pyne's announcement, saying, "I’m extremely pleased to have been trusted to sustain a vital mortar capability for the Australian Army in addition to other ammunition types we currently provide to the ADF."
NIOA has recently been invited to take up a tenancy at the Benalla Munition Manufacturing Facility, with plans underway for domestic manufacture of various munitions.
"This contract will allow Defence to take advantage of NIOA’s munitions technical and supply experience and further strengthen Australia’s sovereign industrial capability. I’d also commend the Commonwealth for the professionalism they’ve shown at all stages of the tender process and contract negotiations," Nioa added.