4 April 2023

Canberra companies win Defence grants and contracts

| Andrew McLaughlin
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XTEC helmet

The grant to XTEC will allow for the expansion of production of lightweight ballistic helmets and body armour. Photo: XTEC.

Canberra-based XTEK Limited has been awarded a $747,707 grant through Defence’s Global Competitiveness and Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant program to upgrade its machining capabilities.

The grant will see the company acquire and commission a custom press and a new virtual machining centre, allowing it to increase its production capacity of lightweight ballistic helmets and body armour for use by armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

The grants match a 50 per cent investment by the businesses, and the latest announcement on 29 March saw six small to medium enterprises (SMEs) receive a total of $3.2 million in grants to support their manufacturing of defence capabilities.

READ ALSO Canberra firm leads the way on RAAF electronic warfare upgrade

Other grants went to companies that manufacture rifle scopes and night vision equipment, fibre optic cutters, specialised cutting equipment for armoured vehicle upgrades, wire braiding and testing units, and the testing and certification of pressure vessels.

“By investing in these six businesses, we are investing and securing more jobs and opportunities for our Defence Industry,” Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said in a statement.

“These grants provide Australians the opportunity to deliver cutting-edge manufacturing and maintenance capabilities for our Australian Defence Force, and contribute to our national defence requirements.

“The Defence Global Competitiveness and Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant programs are enhancing the ability of Australian businesses to manufacture products that will serve Defence needs both here and abroad.”

Remote weapon station mounted on an armoured vehicle.

An EOS RWS mounted on an Australian Army Hawkei protected mobility vehicle. Photo: ADF.

Meanwhile, Electro Optic Systems (EOS) based at Symonston announced it has been awarded a conditional contract valued at up to $120 million to supply heavy remote weapon stations (RWS) to Ukraine.

Designed to be employed on armoured vehicles, the RWS resembles a small mount or turret that integrates weapons such as machine guns, cannons, lasers or anti-armour missiles with sensors and communications, so it can be operated from within the safety of the armoured vehicle or by an operator in another vehicle or location.

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EOS manufactures a range of different RWS, ranging from a lightweight system for small vehicles to a large turreted system designed for large armoured vehicles. The release didn’t specify which of the company’s RWS the Ukraine contract covered.

Its T-2000 turret has been offered as part of Hanwha Australia’s Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the Australian Army’s Project LAND 400 Phase 3 requirement, a decision on which is expected to coincide with the release of the Defence Strategic Review later this month.

EOS says the contract is conditional on demonstration testing, and that the company will draw on its supply chain of more than 100 Australian companies to produce and supply the RWS through 2023 and 2024.

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