21 February 2022, Lithgow, NSW – Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms business today marked the beginning of a new industrial era for its Lithgow facility and 140-strong workforce, with a sod turning ceremony to commence construction of a new $6.5 million building, the first phase of an industrial plan to transform the Lithgow Arms facility in regional New South Wales.
Building on $70 million of investment by Thales Australia in the Lithgow facility that has included new equipment and product development over the past decade, phase 1 of this new industrial plan will establish a modern manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of next generation weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, industrial partners and export customers.
Testament to Lithgow’s distinguished, century-long heritage of producing world-leading smallarms and weapons systems for the Australian Defence Force, the ceremony was attended by leaders from local, state and federal governments including, Paul Toole MP, Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Member for Bathurst; Andrew Gee MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister for Veterans Affairs and Member for Calare, and Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan.
Attending the ceremony today, Deputy Premier for New South Wales and Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole MP said “This is a momentous occasion for both Thales and Lithgow today. The $6.5 million investment by Thales in a new facility here in Lithgow shows that Thales is going to be in Lithgow for a long long time.
“Today marks the future, and a new era that not only secures existing advanced manufacturing jobs here in Lithgow, but will continue to create new jobs into the future. This is a significant driver of the local economy because investments like this will ensure Lithgow has a strong future, and will go from strength to strength as we move forward.”
Since 1912, the Lithgow small arms factory has proudly supported Australia’s soldiers in every major conflict, and employed over 5 generations of local workers. This industrial transformation plan will harmonise the steadfast traditional precision manufacturing of yesteryear with the introduction of new digital technologies, and globally benchmarked high precision manufacturing techniques. A necessary step in achieving the company’s Industry 4.0 ambitions.
New technologies will include 3D printing, as well as the installation of automated electro-plating and other metal treatment capabilities. A new purpose-built live firing test and evaluation capability will support systems integration of existing and new technologies for developmental advanced weapons systems such as the Digital Battle Rifle, and the acceleration of research and technology development of other digitised small-arms and weapon system platforms.
Corry Roberts, Vice President Land, Thales Australia & New Zealand said “We are a company that loves to make complex stuff – and we take our stewardship of this strategic manufacturing facility very seriously.
“This factory doesn’t only have a great history – it has a great future as well. Patient long term investment in this factory and the skills of the people that work here over the past decade, has clearly demonstrated our long-term commitment to growing and maintaining an enduring, sustainable and resilient sovereign industrial capability for the Australian Defence Force in regional New South Wales. Our $6.5 million investment in this new facility is just more evidence of that.
“We are proud of our heritage and our people – and we are excited today to be celebrating the commencement of a new era for the Lithgow factory, and the continuation of delivering truly Australian, truly sovereign weapons and weapons systems capabilities now, and into the future.”
The new development will expand the world-leading precision-manufacturing capability of Lithgow Arms to also support new sovereign manufacturing partnerships for strategic ADF programs, including the recently announced partnership with Rheinmetall Defence Australia. Coupled with the company’s recent announcement to expand its partnership with Fuller Global and Outdoor Sporting Agencies (OSA) to help grow its export markets by 300% in the next 2 years, Lithgow Arms will create a possible 40-50 new jobs in regional New South Wales.
The precinct will also provide facilities to enable collaboration across research institutions, SME partners, and key industrial partners to create the soldier systems and small arms of the future, and secure the next generation of manufacturing and engineering skills in Lithgow and across the Central West.