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Lockheed Martin to manufacture guided weapons in Australia

Lockheed Martin Australia has been awarded a $37.4 million (excluding GST) contract by Defence to commence manufacturing missiles in Australia. Under this Guided Weapons Production Capability (GWPC) Risk Reduction Activity contract, Lockheed Martin Australia will commence fit-out in preparation for a state-of-the-art guided weapons production capability at the Defence Establishment Orchard Hills in western Sydney.

The objective of GWPC Risk Reduction Activity is to have Australian involvement in the manufacture of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) All Up Rounds (AURs) and 6-round Launch Pod Containers (LPCs). A live fire demonstration of the AURs will occur in Australia from 2025.

Australia will also acquire Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM) which can engage targets out to 500km; the first production example of PrSM Increment 1 was delivered to the US Army in December last year.

“I’m also announcing today that we have joined the Development Program for PrSM Increments 3 and 4 that have the objective of extending the range of PrSM for both land and maritime strike to around 1,000 kilometres, a very significant announcement, and a very significant contribution,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy. PrSM Increment 4, which is currently being developed by two teams comprising Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman/Raytheon, is intended to be in ADF service by the end of the decade. The first three Increments of PrSM are being developed by Lockheed Martin. Both PrSM and GMLRS can be fired from an M142 HIMARS launchers, which carries a single GMLRS LPC; the Australian Army plans to acquire 42 HIMARS launchers.

The RAAF has plans to acquire up to seven MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) to help with target detection, identification and targeting for these and other weapons, as well as conducting persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) activities.

The contract will enable an initial batch of GMLRS missiles to be manufactured in Australia, which is an important first step towards establishing domestic missile manufacturing on a larger scale. It will facilitate the transfer of technical data from the United States, establish processes for engineering certification, and begin to build the technical skills of an Australian workforce.

“This important first step towards the establishment of domestic guided weapons manufacturing in Australia will complement the acquisition of long-range precision strike capabilities and strengthen the ADF’s ability to protect Australia and its interests,” said Conroy. “This work is a clear demonstration of the ongoing collaboration between Australia and the United States on Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEO) – a key outcome of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in July 2023.”

“Lockheed Martin will transfer the technology and service delivery as is in many of our US advanced weapon factories – accelerating the development of manufacturing capability in Australia for Lockheed Martin weapons,” said Tim Cahill, Executive Vice President Missiles and Fire Control, Lockheed Martin.

The GWPC Risk Reduction Activity contract will provide a mechanism for swift knowledge and technology transfer and serve as a risk mitigator and pathfinder to future manufacture in Australia of the Lockheed Martin suite of guided weapons, according to Warren McDonald, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand.

These activities are part of the $4.1 billion investment, announced in response to the Defence Strategic Review, which will enable Defence to acquire more long-range strike systems and manufacture longer-range munitions in Australia, said Defence in a statement. This could include the scramjet-powered PrSM Increment 4 variant with a range of more than 1,000km

Lockheed Martin’s Australian Defence Strategic Capabilities Office (ADSCO) has been working with the Commonwealth and industry partners to expedite the delivery of a guided weapons manufacturing and maintenance capability in Australia.

In readiness for making the GMLRS AURs and LPCs in Australia, a team of Lockheed Martin Australia engineers will be sent to the US for specialised training at Lockheed Martin’s guided weapons production facilities before returning to Australia to begin this work, said Ken Kota, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President, ADSCO.

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