NIOA has revealed plans for a $50 million factory, specialising in the manufacture of small arms and weapons for the Australian Defence Force, commercial markets and international export.
Lithgow in New South Wales, Brisbane, and Benalla in Victoria have been touted as potential sites for the new plant which would come online in 2024, creating up to 150 jobs.
NIOA CEO Robert Nioa says the decision to invest in a “NIOA Weapons Manufacturing Facility’’ (NWMF) signals the seriousness of the Australian-owned company’s commitment to securing the next Tranche of the LAND 159 Lethality Systems Program, which includes a range of assault rifles and machine guns.
NIOA is currently delivering Stage 1 of Tranche 1 of the LAND 159 Program, encompassing test and evaluation of the latest sniper and close combat weapon systems for use by soldiers.
Munitions and small arms research, design, development and manufacture have been identified as one of the Federal Government’s top 10 Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities (SICP).
“Today’s announcement reinforces NIOA’s commitment to build a resilient, reliable sovereign industrial defence base and modernise domestic manufacturing,’’ Mr Nioa said.
“Small arms are core to our business, through both strong commercial market experience and as a trusted partner to Defence and Law Enforcement agencies over many decades.
“If we are successful in securing Tranche 2 of the LAND 159 Program, we will locate this facility in Australia to establish a sustainable small arms manufacturing capability in support of the ADF while looking at export markets.’’
NIOA is the biggest Australian-owned supplier of firearms, weapons and ammunition to the ADF, law enforcement agencies and commercial markets.
Mr Nioa said NIOA had a proven record of delivering sovereign capability, citing the $60 million joint venture Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) plant in Maryborough, Queensland which will soon start producing 155mm artillery shells for the ADF and export orders.
The RNM plant, which was built in under two years, is part of a $130 million capital investment by NIOA in domestic munitions and explosives manufacturing including a $13 million refurbishment of the Government-owned Contractor-operated (GoCo) munitions plant at Benalla in Victoria, and an $11 million expansion of its Brisbane headquarters.
Last week, NIOA announced a foray into New South Wales with the purchase of a corporate base near Lithgow which has been a centre for small arms manufacturing for more than a century.
The company’s Brisbane head office, warehouse, technical and testing centre is spread over 9500sqm in the growing Brisbane Airport precinct while it has a 10-year co-tenancy at Benalla plus additional land adjacent to that facility.
“Defence is an industry that the Federal Government has identified as one of six strategically important manufacturing priorities within a broader Modern Manufacturing Strategy,’’ Mr Nioa said.
“NIOA supports this vision and wants to partner with governments in leading the future of the defence industry.’’
Founded in regional Queensland in 1973, NIOA has more than 150 staff with offices and operations in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Benalla, Lithgow, New Zealand and the United States.