Raytheon Australian opened its new Centre for Joint Integration (CJI) at Mawson Lakes in Adelaide on March 31.
The 11,500sqm facility took just two years to build, and some 200 Raytheon Australia and other partner company employees have already moved into the 5,000sqm three-level office and laboratory building dubbed the Core Facility.
Adjacent to that is the 6,000sqm Integration Facility where elements of the Project LAND 19 Phase 7B short range ground-based air-defence system – for which Raytheon Australia is prime – will come together.
Raytheon Australia was announced in March 2019 as the prime contractor for LAND 19 Phase 7B in March 2019 with an enhanced version of the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAM) which it is developing with Kongsberg Australia, CEA Technologies, Thales Australia, and a contract was signed in June 2019.
The new facility was opened by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, before a crowd of several hundred invited dignitaries, industry representatives, and project employees – 300 of whom will eventually be employed at the facility on NASAMS and the Project AIR 3024 Woomera range remediation program.
“Raytheon Australia has heavily invested in this new precinct in response to the Australian Defence Force’s increased focus on joint integrated capabilities,” Raytheon Australia Managing Director Michael Ward said in a statement. “The facility has been designed to help defence meet its needs of today as well as its greater challenges of tomorrow”.
“In this facility, we will work with defence and industry in sophisticated systems integration laboratories, as well as experimentation areas and training rooms,” Ward added. “These spaces will ensure we can work with our customers and partners to deliver fully integrated sovereign capabilities and also train the workforce of the future.”
The timing of the opening could not have been better for Raytheon Australia, with the facility’s future ensured with the company being named by new Defence Minister Peter Dutton as having been awarded a five-year $111 million sustainment contract for the NASAM system from 2022, with options out to 2047.
“It will serve as Raytheon’s main site for the manufacture, assembly and systems integration in Australia and will play a pivotal role in supporting and sustaining the new short range ground-based air defence Capability,” Minister Dutton said in a statement.
Interestingly, the Government also revealed on March 31 its intention to accelerate the previously-stated plan from the 2020 Force Structure Plan to build a Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise capability in Australia.
The enterprise would allow the development and manufacturing of guided weapons in Australia which the Prime Ministerial statement says, would create, “…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 statement says the Commonwealth would use a Smart Buyer process to select a strategic industry partner to lead the enterprise, and that it will fall under the oversight of the ADF’s Joint Capabilities Group. It says it will support missile and guided weapons manufacturing in use across the ADF, while enhancing sovereign manufacturing capabilities.
“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 in the joint statement.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
While short on specifics, the idea of the enterprise seems to align with many of the goals of the ADF’s Project AIR 6500 integrated air defence system (IADS) and, in particular, the AIR 6502 medium-range ground-based air defence (MRGBAD) system requirement which would defend airspace well beyond that of the range of the SRGBAD system.
There are four major companies believed to be under consideration for AIR 6500 – Raytheon Australia, Boeing Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, and Northrop Grumman Australia – a shortlist or possible downselect of a prime system integrator (PSI) for which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.