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Defence experts, businesses zero in on billion-dollar missile enterprise opportunities

15 November 2021

Defence representatives, industry innovators, scientists and researchers from around Australia will converge on Friday to discuss how they can advance the emerging Australian-made precision guided weapons sector.

The Australian Missile Corporation has partnered with the Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) to pull together a formidable line-up of defence representatives, industry leaders and academia to target developing opportunities around the Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise.

Commodore Nigel Smith, RAN, Director General GWEO Enterprise for Joint Capabilities Group and international defence expert the Hon. Ellen Lord will lead off the agenda which includes former Chief Scientist of the Defence Science and Technology Group’s Aerospace Division Dr Ken Anderson, Black Sky Aerospace director Blake Nikolic, Queensland Strategic Defence Advisor Brigadier (Ret’d) Alison Creagh, RAN Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Lee Goddard and Queensland University hypersonics expert Professor Allan Paull.

Defence analysts estimate the GWEO Enterprise, which was launched by the Australian Government in March, 2021 could be worth up to $100 billion over the next 20 years.

Robert Nioa, CEO of NIOA and the AMC, said the event, to be hosted by NIOA at its Brisbane headquarters, would draw on the multidisciplinary expertise of Australia’s sharpest defence minds and industry innovators.

More than 90 people are expected to attend on site, with hundreds more from around Australia linking into the livestream.

“This is a timely opportunity to come together to examine the potential around what will be a significant new opportunity to strengthen sovereign industrial capability,’’ Mr Nioa said.

“Australia needs a sustainable, resilient defence sector. The Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise aims to strengthen defence manufacturing by creating a capability pipeline that upskills the workforce, builds knowledge and contributes to supply chain resilience.

“Friday’s event will feature insights as well as a panel discussion with experts in their respective fields to examine how industry can cooperate, connect and align with the nation’s strategic defence future.

“The AMC is committed to engaging with industry partners, academia and government to harness opportunities that will build on Australia’s strengths in the defence sector.’’

The GWEO enterprise will eventually produce a suite of advanced missiles for the ADF and allied nations, enhancing Australia’s defence self-reliance and supply chain resilience.

It is part of a $270 billion Commonwealth Government spend over the next decade to bolster Australia’s defence forces, including high-tech submarines, new fighter jets, hypersonic weapons, and advanced munitions.

The AMC is a wholly owned subsidiary of NIOA - the largest Australian-owned supplier of weapons and munitions to the Australian Defence Force.

It was launched earlier this year to facilitate collaboration between industry, academia, state governments and Defence on the back of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that the government would invest $1 billion to accelerate the establishment of a domestic missile manufacturing industry.

Already, the AMC has linked up with more than 300 partners from Australia and overseas with world-leading defence and aerospace expertise.

NIOA, which began in regional Queensland almost 50 years ago as a family-run service station doubling as a guns and ammo outlet, has grown to become Australia’s largest privately-owned supplier of firearms, weapons, munitions and technical support to military, law enforcement and commercial markets.

The company is investing $130 million in Australian-made defence capability including a $60 million artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough with joint-venture partner Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions, as well as a $13 million upgrade at the Commonwealth Government-owned munitions plant at Benalla in Victoria where it has a 10-year co-tenancy.

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