Sep 21, 2023
BAE Systems' Australian heritage dates back to testing of the first generation air defence missile systems in South Australia. This year, BAE Systems Australia celebrates its 70th birthday.
Since its origins in a dusty paddock in South Australia in 1953, the company has worked hard to build a strong Australian company and a legacy of technology and innovation.
Its’ purpose is clear – protect those who protect us. The company’s history of contributing to Australia’s defence began in the ‘50s supporting the Commonwealth’s aspirations to develop the nation’s military capability.
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BAE Systems introduced a sovereign missile capability to Australia, at the dawn of the missile age. And it has been innovating defence technologies at the cutting-edge ever since.
The company’s long history with the Royal Australian Navy began with a contract to manufacture and sustain periscope systems for the Collins Class submarine, a project BAE Systems still support to this day.
BAE Systems been a major contributor to the Australian maritime defence industry for decades and its shipyards are a critical part of the Navy’s current and future fleets.
With a strong history in developing world-leading technologies locally and exporting to Australia’s allies – BAE Systems innovation is epitomised by the Nulka Active Missile Decoy, Australia’s biggest Defence export.
The many technologies that make Nulka unique are now used in other programs including the development of autonomous systems in the land, air and maritime domains.
BAE Systems’ Jindalee Operational Radar Network is working with the Defence Science and Technology and Capability Acquisition and Sustainment groups on next generation capabilities for the radar network to secure Australia’s northern approaches.
Based on cutting edge work by Australian scientists in the 1950s, the radar network started life as a small concept demonstrator in the early 1970s. Today, the network is one of the most advanced in the world.
The company shares a long, collaborative history with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), having maintained and refurbished its fleet of F/A-18 Classic Hornets for nearly 20 years. Today, BAE Systems partners with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to manufacture, integrate and sustain the F-35.
In addition to supporting operational level maintenance for the RAAF, the company is also involved in maintenance, warehousing and repair of components for the Asia Pacific fleet of F-35s.
Last month, the Commonwealth Government and BAE Systems Australia announced the establishment of a new Aircraft Coating Facility at the company’s Williamtown aerospace precinct, north of Newcastle. It’s part of a broader expansion of the facility to accommodate future sustainment for the RAAF’s fleet of F-35 aircraft.
Looking ahead, BAE Systems has moved from the Outback to the multi-domain battlespace of the future. Its autonomous systems division, now called Red Ochre Autonomy and Sensors, has been advancing autonomous defence capabilities and is rapidly gaining momentum through collaborations with the Australian Army, Boeing Defence Australia and a range of products and platforms now under development.
The Red Ochre team is working in partnership with Boeing Australia to mature the MQ-28 Ghost Bat uncrewed air system, which will provide revolutionary air combat capabilities to the RAAF.
The wider BAE Systems Australia autonomous systems team is also working with Innovaero in Perth to rewrite the aviation rulebook in developing the STRIX unscrewed autonomous aerial system that takes off like a helicopter, but flies like a conventional aircraft.
Working with its partners in government and industry, BAE Systems Australia is bringing its expertise to bear on the significant challenges facing the Australian Defence Force; equipping it with cutting-edge technology to ensure the Australian Defence Force has an advantage over any adversary.
70 Years on, the company is focused on continuing to build sovereign capability that informs, develops and delivers technology-led defence solutions that will enable a truly strategic advantage within the Indo-Pacific region.