New defence aircraft program to connect manufacturers

defence aircraft

The federal government is investing in a $103 million joint project led by Boeing Defence Australia to develop new technology and parts for defence aircraft. 

The Advanced Defence Aerospace Manufacturing Network project will create almost 400 new local jobs in Brisbane and Melbourne, with over 1,500 jobs estimated to be created nationally by 2024. 

The Network will connect Australian small and medium manufacturers to deliver the sovereign capability to manufacture, export and support complete crewed and un-crewed defence aircraft at scale. 

Boeing will collaborate with project partners Ferra Engineering, Helimods, Naeco, RUAG Australia, Cablex, AME Systems and JRS Manufacturing Group. 

This project will allow these SMEs to participate in global supply chains and create an aerospace system manufacturers network, helping them accelerate and maximise exports and establish sovereign capabilities to manufacture, test and deliver aircraft in Australia. 

The project will establish new facilities, including cyber security upgrades for each project partner, the procurement and commission of capital equipment needed to support the volume of manufacturing, as well as introducing advanced technologies and new capabilities with partners. 

The federal government is providing $34 million under the Collaboration Stream of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative for this project. 

“Our $270 billion defence investment is keeping Australians safe, building our sovereign defence capability and creating jobs while securing a stronger economy and a stronger future,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. 

“Under our Modern Manufacturing Strategy, we are investing more than $2.5 billion to grow key capabilities and support jobs. By partnering with the private sector, we are leveraging billions more in additional investment. 

Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, said the investment would deliver greater sovereign defence capability. 

“This investment will allow us to build our home-grown defence capabilities so that we can be more resilient, self-reliant and a better ally and partner,” Dutton said. “In Queensland, that means jobs and long-term career opportunities in engineering, manufacturing, maintenance, research and much more. 

“This is another example of the Morrison government working with our industry partners to not only enhance our future capabilities and create long-term career opportunities, but also establish potential future export opportunities to support our allies and partners.” 

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said Australia’s Defence sector is growing and will be further bolstered by the private investment this will spur. 

“Building our sovereign manufacturing capability of defence products, systems and components here at home will not only help Australia meet the future challenges to our national security, but also give Australian businesses the opportunity to export more of these products to like-minded countries around the world,” Taylor said. 

“By bringing together small and medium businesses, each with their own unique capabilities, this network has incredible potential to leverage our highly skilled workforce to strengthen our sovereign aircraft capabilities here at home. 

“These projects will also open up new job opportunities which is so important given we know that for every manufacturing job we create, at least another three are generated in other neighbouring industries.” 

Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price, said the project shows the government’s determination to ensure Australian industry can build what the Australian Defence Force needs to defend the nation. 

“Australia already has incredible existing strengths in Defence manufacturing and this Boeing project will help the sector reach new heights,” Price said. 

“We know that it is more important than ever to strategically invest in our defence manufacturing industry, to ensure we can deliver the necessary capability for our defence force to keep our nation safe.” 

Additionally, the federal government has announced $24.6 million in funding to back more Australian businesses to manufacture some of the world’s most innovative defence technologies. 

The grants under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Translation Stream will be shared by eight Australian companies – including $1.8 million for Craig International Ballistics, a leading Queensland manufacturer of lightweight body armour. This will invest in Australia’s first automated high pressure composite panel manufacturing line for large-format, complex ballistic product manufacturing. 

As the only large format hydraulic press in the region, this investment will be unique to Australia, providing a significant increase in export sales and will see the business employ and skill 56 new staff. 

Other successful Defence recipients under the Initiative are: 

  • Hypersonix Launch Systems (QLD) will use its $8 million in funding for the manufacture of a hypersonic target drone technology demonstrator using additive engineering; 
  • Sentient Vision Systems (VIC) will use its $2.1 million in funding to establish and fit out a new facility to manufacture VIDAR pods in Melbourne; 
  • Defendtex Research Labs (VIC) will use its $4.3 million to establish sovereign capability to manufacture guided warheads for unmanned aircraft technologies, missiles and small arms systems; 
  • Thomas Global Systems (NSW) will use its $2 million to develop and manufacture next-generation avionics and high integrity defence electronics; 
  • Marand Precision Engineering (VIC) will use its $1.7m to implement a welding centre with hardware, software and ancillaries to enable the survivability of modern military platforms using high-grade ballistic steels; 
  • Extel Technologies (VIC) will use its $1.4 million to support the onshore manufacture of electronics sub-assemblies for Defence supply chains; and 
  • ANCA Pty Ltd (VIC) will use its $3 million for manufacturing cells for equipment and capability in ultra, precise CNC grinding for larger components required by the defence industry.