Canberra puts foreign companies at the helm of a multi-billion missile program


By Peter Robert

The Federal Government has selected overseas defense contractors and assigned a supporting role to two genuinely Australian consortia to expedite the deployment of ‘sovereign’ guided weapons capabilities.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton has announced an investment of $3.5 billion to accelerate the delivery of new missile capabilities for the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy.

Joint Air-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM-ER) missiles built by Lockheed Martin and naval strike missiles (NSM) built by Kongsberg will now be delivered by 2024, ahead of schedule and in response to rising international tensions .

JASSM-ERs which have a range of 900 km will be deployed on FA-18 and F-35 fighter jets while Hobart-class destroyers and Anzac-class frigates will receive NSMs.

Raytheon Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia have additionally been announced as strategic partners for the Commonwealth Government’s highly anticipated billion dollar Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEO).

AMC, a subsidiary of Australian ammunition maker NIOA, and SMA, which is backed by indigenous companies Electro Optic Systems and Nova Systems, will now “support” foreign defense contractors.

Both previously saw themselves as leading GWEO with the support of multinational vendors.

Writing in @AuManufacturing in June, Nova Systems CEO Jim McDowell said:

“A truly sovereign Australian company has:

  • a majority of Australian shareholders – it is controlled by Australia
  • Australian Administrators – Australian Governed
  • Head office and operations in Australia – creating Australian jobs
  • Control over discretionary decisions and spending without foreign influence, including raising and allocating capital, financing and protecting intellectual property, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, R&D – all decisions made in Australia by Australians
  • And Ownership of Intellectual Property – Australian Controlled Intellectual Property/Design Authority.

Minister Dutton said today: “We will work with them to rapidly increase our ability to service and manufacture guided weapons and their components in Australia.

“We know we need to work closely with our partners to build our self-reliance and this is another major step in delivering that sovereign capability here in Australia.”

But clearly what has been announced is not sovereign by Jim McDowell, former head of BAE Systems Australia and Nova Systems definition.

However, today the Australian Missile Corporation welcomed its appointment to the Enterprise Partner Panel for the country’s new guided weapons venture.

Nioa CEO Robert Nioa said, “This is the start of an exciting opportunity to pioneer a high-tech defense manufacturing sector that will create jobs, drive innovation and build capacity. supreme criticism.

“CMA looks forward to working with our industry partners, combining our extensive capabilities and experience to deliver best-in-class technology to ADF.”

Nova Systems released a similar statement, though it didn’t really welcome the decision.

CEO Jim Mcdowell said, “The expertise SMA brings to GWEO Enterprise will lead to greater autonomy for a range of high-tech guided weapons.

“The Enterprise will bring operational sovereignty to Australia, which in the case of
weapons, is to eliminate the risk of losing access to or control of these essential elements
weapon systems.

Picture: Raytheon

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