Lockheed Martin and Thales Australia have entered into a teaming agreement in a bid to secure work under Australia’s “sovereign guided weapons enterprise,” which will see the country invest A$1 billion into guided weapons manufacturing capability.
The agreement between the two companies will involve the design, development and production of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – surface launch (LRASM SL) variant, with a specific focus on booster and rocket motor technologies.
Thales Australia will be working on the development of booster and rocket motor technology for the LRASM SL.
Australia is already a LRASM customer, having confirmed the purchase of A$800 million worth of the missiles for the Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornets in July 2020.
Lockheed Martin argued that the agreement would provide further impetus for the Australian government’s objective of expanding the sovereign defense industrial and manufacturing capability.
The company did not specify which “further platforms” would host the LRASM SL, indicating only it could be intended for both ground-launched and ship-launched configurations.
“The opportunity to work with the team at Thales Australia, the largest manufacturer of explosive ordnance to the Australian Defence Force, with a successful track record of delivering ammunition, propellants, explosives and related services has the makings of a great partnership for the future,” Joe North, chief executive, Lockheed Martin Australia, commented.
“High performance propellants and explosives for warheads, solid fuel rocket motor manufacturing and associated R&D and support services delivered by Thales Australia are essential to achieve sovereign guided weapons capability and we are looking forward to working with Lockheed Martin in support of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) objectives,” Chris Jenkins, CEO at Thales Australia, said.
Australia’s establishment of the guided missile enterprise will be overseen by the Chief of Joint Capabilities (CJC) Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, who will serve as the capability manager for the enterprise.
“Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe, while also providing thousands of local jobs in businesses right across the defense supply chain,” Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said in March this year.
Defense minister Peter Dutton said that the government would use a “smart buyer” process to select an experienced strategic industry partner to build a sovereign capability to manufacture a suite of precision weapons that will meet Australia’s growing needs and provide export opportunities as a second source of supply.
Other reported contenders for the enterprise undertaking include Raytheon Australia, Konsberg and BAE Systems Australia.