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Australia to invest USD140 million in local munitions manufacturing

Thales Australia employees conduct the final visual inspection of .50 calibre ball linked ammunition on the production line at Benalla. (Thales Australia)

The Australian government will invest AUD220 million (USD139.9 million) in state-owned munitions production factories in Mulwala in New South Wales and Benalla in Victoria, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said in a press release on 6 October.

According to the DoD, the investment will improve industrial capacity through infrastructure redevelopments at each site to meet future demand for munitions such as 155 mm artillery.

The investment also includes the procurement of new explosive mixers for the Mulwala factory, as well as improvements to its munition manufacturing procedures including non-destructive testing, the DoD said.

The new explosive mixers, which utilise Resonant Acoustic Mixing technology, will boost the production capability of munitions such as the Royal Australian Air Force's BLU-111(AUS) aerial bombs, the DoD added.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said in the press release that the investment in these capabilities will also accelerate the domestic manufacture of Australia's guided weapons and explosive ordnance (GWEO) such as 155 mm artillery ammunition.

The Mulwala and Benalla munition factories – operated by Thales Australia – develop propellants, explosives, and munitions for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

According to Thales Australia, the investment in new large-scale preparation and mixing equipment will enable a 500% increase in the size of rocket motors able to be manufactured at Mulwala, supporting production of advanced guided weapons and hypersonic weapons.

Australia's Defence Strategic Review – published in late April – recommended the government to focus on manufacturing munitions in Australia, especially long-range guided weapons, as part of the GWEO Enterprise.

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