Foreign Defence shop aids exporters

Foreign Defence shop aids exporters

Fyshwick’s CEA Technologies is one of the winners to emerge from a Government decision to market Australian defence technology overseas.

An Australian Military Sales Office is to be established as a ‘‘one-stop shop’’ for Australian defence manufacturers seeking to export their wares Defence Minister Stephen Smith said today.

CEA has developed what is believed to be the world’s most advanced active phased radar array. The system is now being fitted to all eight of the Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac class frigate as part of a $650 million upgrade program.

Bushmasters and extra lightweight body armour developed for diggers serving in Afghanistan are also likely to marketed through the new office.

The Government has also scrapped the current Defence Capability Plan which, according to critics, is ‘‘dead in the water’’ as a result of defence cuts announced in the budget.

A new DCP will be finalised before the end of September.

Mr Smith said the changes were designed to ‘‘align the DCP with the four-year Forward Estimates period in the budget and provide greater certainty for industry’’.

‘‘The public DCP will provide information for industry on project cost, project schedule and local industry content,’’ he said.

The most significant change is that the public DCP will now only include projects that are close to reaching either first or second pass approval in the forward estimates period.

Projects that are not as far along will be relegated to the newly created Defence Capability Guide which will cover the six years beyond the forward estimates, giving the two documents a combined coverage of 10 years.

The current DCP has effectively been scrapped with a new DCP and the first DCG to be published before the end of September.

Mr Smith said the second part of the Coles Review into Australia’s troubled Collins submarine fleet should be released in weeks.

The future submarine project will loom large in the new DCP and influence the timing of other projects now likely to be relegated to the DCG.

Mr Smith, who was speaking at a media event with Defence Materiel minister, Jason Clare, also announced the ADF had received two second hand Chinook CH-47D helicopters from the United States Army.

The two machines were bought to replace the Chinook that crashed in Afghanistan last year, claiming the life of an Australian serviceman.

A second Australian Chinook was damaged during a hard landing while on combat support operations in Afghanistan on June 22. It may have to be returned to Australia for repairs.

Seven brand new CH-47F Chinooks are due to start arriving in Australia from 2016.

The two Ministers also announced plans to buy a further 214 Bushmasters for the army. The four-wheel-drive armoured troop transports are made at the Thales plant in Bendigo. There have been concerns workers would have to be retrenched due to a growing gap between the last Bushmaster orders and the finalisation of the design of the Hawkei light vehicles for the army.

The plan is to spend $1.5 billion to provide up to 1300 Hawkeis in both protected and unarmoured configurations.

Mr Smith said the additional Bushmasters, to be built in lots of 50, would retain critical skills at the Bendigo plant until work began on the Hawkei contract.

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