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BAE Systems Australia invests in hypersonic weapons capabilities

HMAS Arunta fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). BAE Systems Australia designs and builds the ESSM’s complex thrust vectoring rocket motor nozzle. Photo: Defence

BAE Systems Australia has announced that it will increase its investment in Australia to support the rapid development of a sovereign high-speed weapons capability.

BAE Systems will also draw on the wide-ranging capabilities and expertise across Australian industry and academia to build an Australian high-speed weapons eco-system with the aim of demonstrating a sovereign capability over the next four years.

The company’s “Project Javelin” builds on more than three decades of world-leading research by BAE Systems in the design and development of Australian weapons, autonomous and hypersonic technologies including the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) which arms the ships of some 14 navies, the Nulka anti-ship missile decoy and the Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM) which arms the RAAF’s Classic F/A-18A/B Hornets.

BAE Systems has invested more than $11 million in hypersonics and high-speed weapon research in Australia in the past decade in collaborative programs with Defence, industry and academia.

Recognising the ADF’s requirement for this disruptive technology based capability, the company will spend $5 million fast tracking technology development in 2021 with additional investments planned for the next four years.

“Project Javelin” complements the company’s existing industrial capabilities in advanced manufacturing and prototyping, battlespace management systems and flight vehicle platform technologies.

The development of a sovereign high-speed weapons capabilities will create new opportunities for Australian industry and academia, through the investment of new and complementary design, development and manufacturing capabilities and could lead to additional defence exports.

BAE Systems already manufactures two of Australia’s most significant defence exports: it has been assembling Nulka ‘hovering rocket’ decoys in Australia for the ADF and for export to the US and Canada for more than two decades. It also designs and builds the complex, thrust-vectoring rocket motor nozzle assembly for the US-primed ESSM.

As well as hypersonics weapons technologies and capabilities, BAE Systems is also developing technologies to support the nation’s defence against high speed weapons.

The company’s announcement follows the Australian Government’s commitment to the development of long-range strike capabilities. The 2020 Force Structure Plan includes an investment of around $30 billion for both high speed strike and defence capabilities, including hypersonics development, test and evaluation.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Officer Gabby Costigan said, “That Australia has a solid foundation of research built over decades means that the rapid integration of newly developed weapons into the force structure is achievable.

“Australia’s future investment in high-speed weapons systems, including hypersonic long-range strike and hypersonic and ballistic missile defence, provides the opportunity for the nation to create an enduring sovereign capability and position the country as a major global contributor in this disruptive technology field.

“It’s so important that the Intellectual Property of new weapons technologies resides with Australia so that as well as developing a sovereign capability, we can continue our work to evolve these technologies over time,” she added

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