Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) – a joint venture between Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH (RWM) and Australian-owned weapons and ammunitions manufacturer NIOA – will produce ammunition for the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program at Benalla, Victoria.
Subject to Department of Defence’s approval, the deal marks the first expansion of the RNM joint venture beyond its $60m artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough, Queensland and will see the company begin production of 25mm Frangible Armour Piercing (FAP) projectiles at the federal government owned Benalla plant in Victoria.
The proposed Load Assemble Pack (LAP) line at Benalla, which will be capable of producing 20mm to 35mm medium-calibre ammunition, is scheduled to be installed in the first half of 2021 and be at full production by September that year.
Werner Kraemer, chairman of the board of directors at RNM, said the JV was ready to expand its footprint and capabilities in Australia.
“We are totally committed to this joint venture and the Australian market,” Mr Kraemer said.
“By committing to develop this medium-calibre production capability here in Australia, we will not only create local jobs and build a supply chain, we will also be developing a proven and sustainable export market.”
NIOA managing director Robert Nioa added: “The establishment of this new capability would be a first for Australian industry.
“On the back of a 100 percent private sector investment, we will ensure that future munitions supplied to the ADF will be made right here in Australia,” Mr Nioa said.