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Thales Australia welcomes focus on long-range strike

Sydney-based Thales Australia has strongly welcomed the Australian government’s $37.4 million contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to commence manufacturing of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) from 2025 in Australia, says the company’s CEO Jeff Connolly.

Thales Australia runs the Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated explosives manufacture and filling facilities at Mulwala and Benalla, on the NSW-Victoria border and is the only company in Australia with the demonstrated ability to design, manufacture and certify military relevant solid rocket motors, rocket motor cases, and exhaust nozzles. In 2021 the company invested $6 million in new state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing equipment at Mulwala to rapidly accelerate sovereign guided weapons manufacturing capability.

Two years ago it unveiled a relationship with Lockheed Martin to manufacture rocket motor propellant for the LRASM-LS missile booster; Lockheed Martin also now has a presence on-site at Mulwala to conduct joint GWEO work, says the company. In addition, Thales Australia has relationships with Mincham Aviation and with Southern Launch to use the latter’s Whaler’s Bay and Koonibba ranges as a test centre for its new generation of rocket motors.

The company’s long standing history delivering sovereign munitions capability to the ADF has allowed it to accelerate the development of a sovereign Guided Weapon and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise, says Thales Australia.

“From rocket motor development, propulsion and payload, we want to do our part to help Government and our industry partners realise the vision by 2025,” said Mr Connolly.

The company’s investment in new large-scale preparation and mixing equipment will enable a 500% increase in the size of rocket motors able to be manufactured at Mulwala, supporting production of advanced guided weapons and hypersonic weapons.

Thales Australia already supplies GWEO-style solutions to some of the world’s guided weapons manufacturers, in Australia and internationally, including rocket motors for Raytheon, Boeing and BAE Systems Australia, Kongsberg and Rafael, and vectored thrust nozzle systems for BAE Systems Australia’s Nulka decoy and the BAE Systems Australia/Raytheon vertical-launch Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).

The company says it is one of the few, if not the only, manufacturer of TNT-based explosive fillings to be certified by the US Army. As a result it is now manufacturing some natures of 155mm ammunition in Australia for the US Army. And the company has demonstrated Rapid Manufacture ability to produce BLU-126 and BLU-111 warheads to meet urgent operational requirements for BLU-12 Paveway II and BLU- 38 JDAM. The manufacturing capability was originally established to produce insensitive munition warheads for the Kongsberg Penguin anti-ship missile, which resulted in exports to 6 allied navies.

These facilities, R&D and process knowledge are now being applied to programs such as advanced warhead solutions and high-speed weapons warhead development.

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