Multinational weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) will produce and export ammunition for the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.
Production of the 25mm frangible armoured piercing projectiles at the federal government-owned plant in Benalla, Victoria is due to begin under an Australia-first collaboration.
The deal will be the first expansion of the RNM joint venture beyond its $60m artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough, Queensland with Australian-owned NOIA, the leading supplier of the weapons and ammunition to the Australian Defence Force.
RNM chairman of the board of directors said it was time to expand the footprint and capabilities of the joint venture company in Australia.
“We are totally committed to this joint venture and the Australian market,” he said.
By committing to develop this medium-calibre production capability here in Australia, we will not only create local jobs and build a supply chain, we will also be developing a proven and sustainable export market.”
The new load assemble pack line will be capable of producing 20mm to 35mm medium-calibre ammunition.
RNM aims to serve as a secondary source supplier to the US government for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.
NIOA managing director Robert Nioa noted that the Benalla project would enable development of a true sovereign capability in medium-calibre munitions in Australia.
“The establishment of this new capability at Benalla is a first for Australian industry,” he said.
“On the back of a 100 percent private sector investment, we will ensure that future munitions supplied to the ADF will be made right here in Australia.”
The line is due to be installed in the first half of 2021 and be at full production by September that year.