Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) has announced that it will produce and export ammunition for the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme in Victoria.

RNM has announced that it will begin production of 25mm Frangible Armoured Piercing (FAP) projectiles at the federal government-owned Benalla plant in Victoria, marking the first expansion of the RNM joint venture beyond its $60m artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough, Queensland.

The new Load Assemble Pack (LAP) line at Benalla will be capable of producing 20mm to 35mm medium-calibre ammunition, with Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions, part of RMN, aiming to serve as a secondary source supplier to the US government for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.

Each F-35A is armed with a 25 mm GAU-22/A rotary cannon mounted internally near the left wing root with 182 rounds, while thw Short Take-off Vertical Landing F-35B and the carrierborne F-35C have no internal gun but instead have the option to carry the GAU-22/A in a low-observable Terma A/S multi-mission pod (MMP) with 220 rounds mounted on the centreline.

Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions is a global multinational weapons manufacturer, while Australian-owned NIOA is the leading supplier of weapons and munitions to the Australian Defence Force.

NIOA managing director Robert Nioa noted that the Benalla project would enable development of a true sovereign capability in medium-calibre munitions in Australia.

“The establishment of this new capability at Benalla is 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.The line is scheduled to be installed in the first half of 2021 and be at full production by September that year.

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