Home Air Australian defense companies team up for country’s sovereign missile program

Australian defense companies team up for country’s sovereign missile program

HMAS Sydney ESSM launch
Illustration: Royal Australian Navy file photo of destroyer HMAS Sydney firing an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile

Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and Nova Systems have announced what they say is the first Australian-controlled joint venture, created in a bid to secure work under the government’s push to develop a sovereign guided-missile development and production capability.

The joint venture is called the Sovereign Missile Alliance and is pitted against majors such as Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Konsberg and BAE Systems Australia, who are also expected to be in the running for the A$1 billion “sovereign guided weapons enterprise.”

In July this year, the defense ministry issued a request for information as a first step in selecting an industry major to operate a weapons manufacturing capability on behalf of the government. Submissions for the RFI were due on August 2. This initial phase of the program is focused on defining what capabilities will be incorporated within the enterprise.

The purely-Australian Sovereign Missile Alliance (SMA) offers the Commonwealth an industry partner that will establish and deliver a Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise (GWEOE) capability in the short, medium and long-term, the two companies said in a statement.

“The sovereign capability to deliver guided weapons already exists in-country and the SMA creates an Australian owned entity of scale with the required capabilities, resources, funding and established relationships across the broader defense ecosystem to start this journey with the Commonwealth now,” said Jim McDowell, Group CEO, Nova Systems.

“We have the core competencies, advanced R&D capabilities, existing IP, and established technology partnerships to create the next generation of guided weapons optimized for Australian requirements with full sovereign ownership and control. The Common User Facility will progressively move to produce these missiles,” said Dr Ben Greene, Group CEO, EOS.

The 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.

Australian defense minister Peter Dutton earlier 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.