Australia’s plan to build advanced missiles: Albanese Government gives ‘rock-solid backing’ to ‘really important enterprise’

An Albanese Government minister has used a speech in the United States to tout Australia’s ability to build up its own domestic missile industry. 

Pat Conroy told the G’Day USA Defence Industry Dialogue in Washington DC this week how Labor has given its “rock-solid backing” to manufacturing advanced missiles.  

The Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific said the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordinance Enterprise Australia was working to establish was part of the next frontier in its alliance with the United States.

“It’s good for Australia and it’s good for the United States… because it will build Australia’s guided weapons stores and deliver a trusted second source of critical munitions supply to the United States,” Mr Conroy said. 

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“We can get this done quickly and efficiently – by pooling our expertise and knowledge, and by making it easier for our respective Defence departments and defence industries to work together.”

Mr Conroy said Australia has all the “foundational elements needed for a missile industry”, including being manufactures of advanced military sensors and having a munitions sector that produces high quality explosives and propellant.

“Bringing these elements together to build advanced missiles is a serious, long-term endeavour that has the rock-solid backing of the Australian Government,” he said. 

“We will need help from the American Government and from our two strategic partners, Lockheed Martin Australia and Raytheon Australia, as well as the many companies in their supply chains.

“The strategic partners are working with Defence to identify initial options to manufacture guided weapons and their critical components in Australia.

“This is about identifying where Australian industry can supplement (not supplant) US industrial capacity; to expand our alliance beyond the battlefield and into the factories.”

At a press conference after delivering his speech, Mr Conroy was quizzed on the timeline Australia was looking at to establish the domestic missile industry.

He said Lockheed Martin Australia and Raytheon Australia – “the two dominant producers of missiles within the United States defence ecosystem” – will report back to the government shortly.

The reports will showcase “where the opportunities for us are to manufacture parts or entire missiles”.

“This is a really important enterprise. The lessons from the Ukraine war are that we use missile stocks or all munitions, but particularly guided weapons, very fast in a conflict,” Mr Conroy said.

“And quite frankly we need more missiles in Australia, both as a stock and also the ability to maintain, repair and upgrade those missiles.

“That’s why the guided weapons enterprise is a multibillion-dollar exercise to develop that and I’m confident that at the end of this process we will have a much more sovereign capability to manufacture and upgrade missiles which are so important.”

Lockheed Martin Australia and Raytheon Australia were announced as strategic partners of the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise by then defence minister Peter Dutton in early April.

At the time, Mr Dutton said Australia’s strategic environment becoming more complex and challenging meant it “is imperative that we work closely with like-minded countries and industry partners to develop a more capable military force to defend Australia”.  

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