Lithgow Arms launches regional manufacturing collaboration

Thales Australia

Wednesday, 15 June, 2022

Lithgow Arms launches regional manufacturing collaboration

Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms business in regional New South Wales has announced it has established a Small Arms Collaboration and Cooperation Centre (C3) to support and help grow the capabilities of its Australian SME and industrial partners.

The C3, housed inside the Lithgow Arms small arms factory, is designed to break down costly barriers to entry for SMEs and industrial partners by providing ready access to Lithgow Arms resources and equipment, engineering skills and expertise. Fostering an interest-based learning model, collaborators within the C3 are able to securely share areas of expertise to advance skills, collaborate on research and design, and seek manufacturing support to accelerate sovereign small arms innovation and design in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), commercial and export markets.

According to Thales, early adopters of the C3 — Southern Cross Small Arms (SCSA), Hosico, AW Bell and Wedgetail Industries — are currently working with the Lithgow Arms team to gain support in areas such as prototyping, test and evaluation, qualification, industrialisation and advanced manufacturing, supporting the advancement of their respective product capabilities to pursue programs in domestic commercial and law enforcement, as well as export.

Current projects underway within the C3 include creating 100% Australian-made commercial products for sporting shooters and the farming industry. By leveraging and combining the Australian intellectual property, unique expertise and skills of Lithgow Arms, SCSA, Hosico, AW Bell and Wedgetail Industries, the group is able to achieve an increase in Australian industry content to achieve their business objectives. Work is also being done within the C3 with FN Herstal, to explore Australian manufacture and support of FN Herstal weapon systems.

The most notable success story of the C3 is the recent collaboration of Thales Australia, Rheinmetall Defence Australia and SME A.W. Bell, that led to the successful Australian manufacture of key components for Rheinmetall’s Mk30-2 cannon by Lithgow Arms in support of the Australian Defence Force’s Land 400 program. A.W. Bell is now applying its casting expertise, working directly with Rheinmetall, to explore an increase in component manufacture for armoured vehicles in Australia.

Following Thales Australia’s recent $6.5 million investment in the first phase of an industrial plan to transform its Lithgow Arms facility in regional New South Wales, the establishment of the C3 is a critical next step in delivering the Lithgow Arms master plan, according to the company. The new development will expand the precision-manufacturing capability of Lithgow Arms to support new sovereign manufacturing partnerships for strategic ADF programs.

“Opening the C3 inside the Lithgow Arms factory is critical in achieving the vision of the Lithgow Arms master plan and redevelopment,” said Matt Duquemin, Director Integrated Weapons and Sensors, Thales Australia. “The future of our business here in Lithgow is not just about building an advanced manufacturing precinct — it’s about growing a sustainable and competitive sovereign industry capability in regional New South Wales to ensure the Australian Defence Force is ready now, future ready.”

Thales Australia is a trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services. The company employs around 3800 people directly and supports over 2051 jobs along its Australian supply chain. In 2020 Thales Australia spent $657 million with 1841 Australian suppliers, of which 82% are SMEs. Since 2018 Thales Australia has spent over $1.9 billion with local Australian businesses.

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