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RWM Italia to supply classified smart sea mines for ADF

4.5 tons of World War II High Explosive is destroyed just off the coast of Bougainville during Operation RENDER SAFE 14. Photo: CPL Matthew Bickerton.

The Australian Defence Force will acquire smart sea mines deployable from submarines, ships, and aircraft to improve Defence’s maritime mining capability.

The Australian Defence Force will acquire smart sea mines deployable from submarines, ships, and aircraft to improve Defence’s maritime mining capability.

Following an evaluation in 2022, RWM Italia, owned by Rheinmetall, has been selected to produce the quantities of sea mines needed, with the technical capability to meet ADF strategic objectives under a multi-million-dollar contract.

The countermining, explosives, and munitions company is headquartered in northern Italy and has a production plant in Sardinia. The quantity and type of sea mines acquired remains classified.

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The 2023 delivery contract includes provision for transfer of technology and expertise to Australia to enable local manufacturing and maintenance of the sea mines, as well as potential electronic services, recurring maintenance, use of Australian-made explosives, and domestic assembly.

Chief of Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Air Marshal Leon Phillips said rapidly deployable and technologically sophisticated smart sea mines will provide a profound step-up for the defence of Australia.

“The reinvigoration of a maritime mining capability for the ADF will increase its ability to deter through denial any adversary’s attempt to project power against Australia through our northern approaches and protect Australia’s economic connection to our region and the world,” AIRMSHL Phillips said.

“We are providing the ADF with the capability it needs for the 21st century.

“The level of technology involved in this acquisition will take our forces to the cutting-edge of modern military hardware.

“The sea mines will be maintained in Australia and some elements may be manufactured here, potentially including the explosive fill.”

Defence has previously outlined investment priorities in mine warfare capabilities to secure Australia’s maritime approaches during Force Structure Plan 2020.

In that plan, SEA 2000 is aimed to enhance mine warfare capabilities for the Australian Defence Force to secure Australia’s maritime approaches using modern smart sea mines.

A request for information was also issued to assist in understanding maritime mining capabilities in general, extent of the market, methods for their deployment, types and availability of sea mines, rough order of magnitude costs, manufacturing, maintenance, sustainment, and supply surety. That request closed in October 2021.

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