Morrison Government accelerates sovereign guided weapons manufacturing

Joint media release with the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Minister for Defence, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, and the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Christian Porter MP.The Morrison Government will accelerate the creation of a $1 billion Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise, boosting skilled jobs and helping secure Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities.

The Department of Defence will now select a strategic industry partner to operate a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing capability on behalf of the Government as a key part of the new Enterprise.

The new Enterprise will support missile and guided weapons manufacturing for use across the Australian Defence Force.   

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said creating a sovereign defence industrial capability was a key priority for the Government while also creating new opportunities for jobs and small business growth. 

“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 defence supply chain,” the Prime Minister said. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance, be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia, is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment.  

“It’s an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority, accelerating this process following the idea first being explored in the Force Structure Plan.”  

The Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said that the Government will 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.

“The manufacturing and supply of weapons in Australia will not only benefit and enhance our ADF operational capacity but will ensure we have adequate supply of weapon stock holdings to sustain combat operations if global supply chains are disrupted,” Minister Dutton said. 

“To advance this initiative I will be designating the Chief of Joint Capabilities as the capability manager for the national guided weapons enterprise to ensure that we leverage this strategic capability across the ADF and beyond.

“This announcement builds on the agreement the Morrison Government achieved at AUSMIN last year to pursue options to encourage bilateral defence trade and to advance initiatives that diversify and harness our industry cooperation. 

“We will work closely with the United States on this important initiative to ensure that we understand how our enterprise can best support both Australia’s needs and the growing needs of our most important military partner.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said this initiative was an important part of the Government’s $270 billion, 10-year investment in Defence and Australia’s defence industry.

“According to defence industry estimates this new national enterprise could be worth $40 billion in local production and export over the next 20 years,” Minister Price said.

“Utilising sophisticated manufacturing processes, industry also says this could create well over 2,000 jobs in different locations across the nation.

“Australia’s defence industry already has tremendous capability in the area of weapons technology, including the Nulka decoy missile and the Government Owned Contractor Operated explosive factories at Benalla and Mulawa.

“The Government is confident that this represents the necessary industrial capability that will be transferrable to areas like guided weapons.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said that this initiative would directly support the Morrison Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy, where defence is one of the key areas of focus.

“Manufacturing is critical to a modern Australia economy and creating a sovereign capacity to manufacture sovereign guided weapons will drive innovation, skills and resilient supply chains.”

“This initiative will help us leverage Defence investment to grow a high-tech manufacturing ecosystem in Australia,” Minister Porter said.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has estimated that Australia will spend $100 billion in the next 20 years on missile and guided weapons purchases.

Minister Porter released the National Manufacturing Defence Roadmap today, showing a ten year plan for investment and industry growth. 

“The road map identifies opportunities for defence manufacturers to build on existing areas of strength such as military vehicle and aircraft manufacturing, naval shipbuilding and marine hardware production, cutting-edge digital technologies such as 3D printing, and explosives and propellants,” Minister Porter said. 

“The road map also identifies opportunities for Australian manufacturers to build scale and capability in three key areas: investment in the defence sector, defence exports and adapting advanced technologies to the defence sector or for civilian application.”

Minister Porter also opened the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative for projects in the defence sector, underpinned by an industry-led road map.

Initial applications will be limited to the Translation and Integration streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, with expressions of interest for the larger Collaboration stream to open in coming months.

For more information on the road maps and available grant funding visit industry.gov.au/manufacturing.