France-based technology company Thales announced on Monday that its Australian division will invest $6.5 million in the first phase of an industrial plan to transform its Lithgow Arms facility in regional New South Wales.
The details were given in a 1 November media release, to announce that Phase 1 of the plan will establish a modern manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of next-generation weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, industrial partners and export customers.
Building on Lithgow Arms’ distinguished, century-long heritage of producing world-leading small-arms and weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, this phase of the new development will integrate both traditional precision manufacturing and digital technologies, including 3D printing, and the installation of automated electro-plating and other metal treatment capabilities. It will also include a new purpose-built live firing test and evaluation capability to support systems integration, and the acceleration of research and technology development of digitised small-arms and weapon system platforms.
The new development will expand the world-leading precision-manufacturing capability of Lithgow Arms to support new sovereign manufacturing partnerships for strategic ADF programs, including the recently announced partnership with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to manufacture key components for Rheinmetall in support of the Australian Defence Force Land 400 program.
Thales Australia’s investment to expand the size and capability of the Lithgow Arms facility in regional New South Wales is a clear demonstration of the company’s long-term commitment to growing and maintaining an enduring, sustainable and resilient sovereign industrial capability for the Australian Defence Force in regional New South Wales.
“Lithgow has been the home of small arms manufacturing for over a century. Transforming Australia’s manufacturing capability benefits Australia’s self-reliance and evolves the capability of the broader Australian advanced manufacturing sector, which is essential in growing local jobs, and delivering advanced capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force,” Corry Roberts, Vice President Land, Thales Australia & New Zealand said.
“It’s a real privilege to see our design team push the boundaries of traditional small arms solutions. Our future systems include automated and augmented features enabled by modern networked sensors and sovereign Artificial Intelligence while the system architecture is being developed to support integration with next generation soldier systems. Our industrial plan is designed to support the manufacture, maintenance and upgrade of our future systems and seeing this first phase come to life is very rewarding for our Lithgow teams,” Graham Evenden, Director Integrated Weapons & Sensors said.
The precinct will also provide facilities to enable collaboration across research institutions, SME partners, and key industrial partners to create the soldier systems and small arms of the future, and secure the next generation of manufacturing and engineering skills in Lithgow and across the Central West.