Manufacturing News

Thales Australia establishes Small Arms Collaboration Centre

Small Arms

Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms business in regional NSW has established a Small Arms Collaboration and Cooperation Centre (C3) to support and help grow the capabilities of its Australian SME and industrial partners.   

The C3, housed inside the Lithgow Arms small arms factory, is designed to break down costly barriers to entry for SMEs and industrial partners. It provides ready access to Lithgow Arms resources and equipment, engineering skills and expertise. 

Fostering an interest-based learning model, collaborators within the C3 can securely share areas of expertise to advance skills, collaborate on research and design, and seek manufacturing support. This will accelerate sovereign small arms innovation and design in support of the Australian Defence Force, commercial and export markets.   

Early adopters of the C3 – Southern Cross Small Arms (SCSA), Hosico, A.W. Bell and Wedgetail Industries – are being supported in prototyping, test and evaluation, qualification, industrialisation and advanced manufacturing. This will allow them to advance product capabilities and pursue programs in domestic commercial and law enforcement, as well as export.  

Current projects underway within the C3 include creating 100 per cent Australian made commercial products for sporting shooters and the farming industry. By leveraging and combining the Australian intellectual property, unique expertise and skills of Lithgow Arms, SCSA, Hosico, A.W. Bell and Wedgetail Industries, the group can achieve an increase in Australian industry content to achieve their business objectives. Work is also being done within the C3 with FN Herstal, to explore Australian manufacture and support of FN Herstal weapon’s systems.  

The most notable success story of the C3 is the recent collaboration of Thales Australia, Rheinmetall Defence Australia and A.W. Bell, that led to the successful manufacture of key components for Rheinmetall’s Mk30-2 cannon by Lithgow Arms, in support of the Australian Defence Force’s Land 400 program. A.W. Bell are now applying its casting expertise and working directly with Rheinmetall to explore an increase in component manufacture for armoured vehicles in Australia. 

Following Thales Australia’s recent $6.5 million investment in the first phase of an industrial plan to transform its Lithgow Arms facility, the C3 is a critical next step in delivering the Lithgow Arms masterplan. The new development will expand the precision-manufacturing capability of Lithgow Arms and support new sovereign manufacturing partnerships for strategic ADF programs.  

“Opening the C3 inside the Lithgow Arms factory is critical in achieving the vision of the Lithgow Arms masterplan and redevelopment,” Thales Australia director Integrated Weapons and Sensors Matt Duquemin said. 

“The future of our business here in Lithgow is not just about building an advanced manufacturing precinct – it’s about growing a sustainable and competitive sovereign industry capability in regional NSW to ensure the Australian Defence Force is ready now, future ready.”  

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