Australian Defence companies Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and Nova Systems have formed the Sovereign Missile Alliance (SMA), saying it could deliver Australian-made precision munitions within five years.
The SMA says it will offer the Commonwealth an Australian-owned, operated, and controlled sovereign, strategic industry partner that will establish and deliver a guided-weapons and explosive ordnance enterprise capability.
In March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government would seek strategic industry partners for its $1 billion Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise.
The ADF operates a diverse range of precision-guided munitions, all of which are made overseas, mostly in the US. The ADF maintains war stocks of PGMs but, in a conflict, Australia could end up beholden to tenuous overseas supply chains.
In response to the PM’s announcement, Queensland company NIOA announced in May the formation of the Australian Missile Corporation in response to the Commonwealth request for information.
The rival SMA plans to establish a Common User Facility to manufacture customer-selected foreign missiles under licence using their indigenous supply chain.
“We could build bespoke missiles and have them flying within five years if we used foreign technologies that were licensed without conditions,” EOS CEO Dr Ben Greene told a media briefing on August 3.
Much of the key technology already resides in Australia, he said. But that needed to be matched to the Commonwealth’s road map of required capabilities.
“We could put together a short range air defence missile,” he said. “We would have that in low-rate production in six to seven years.
“I say that having experience of running programs for the US government from concept to low rate production using available parts and some research and development to integrate it into a new product,” he added. “We would have bespoke missiles quite soon if we needed them, and I think the need is coming.”
Nova Systems CEO, Jim McDowell said this was a once in a number of generations opportunity to gain a real sovereign capability. “This can’t be done by a local bunch of SMEs getting together, valuable as they are,” he said.