ONE of the Western Australian Government’s major aims is to see local industries involved in the defence sector export their expertise.
The Government is keen to develop the capabilities here that can service the defence industry and then export those skills to other nations.
The Federal Government is also keen to increase the volume of defence industry exports.
That is part of the reason the Commonwealth invested in the Joint Strike Fighter project – it would give Australian companies an opportunity to become involved in the international defence industry.
Several WA companies have already taken the defence export step, with Austal Ships being one of the leaders in that regard.
Besides its contract with the Australian Defence Force to build the new Armidale class patrol boats, Austal has finished a contract for three patrol boats to Kuwait and has a $100 million order to build 10 patrol boats for Yemen.
Austal managing director Bob McKinnon said the global patrol boat market was substantial and could prove a valuable one for the Henderson-based ship builder.
The company is also in the running to win a contract worth several hundred million dollars to supply Littoral Combat Ships to the US Navy.
Austal is one of three teams bidding for the job to create a multi-mission capable vessel for the US forces. It is expected to know by June whether it has won the final design contract.
If Austal is successful, the contract will be worth about $100 million a vessel.
Those vessels will have to be built in the US but all of the design work will have been done in WA.
Austal managing director Bob McKinnon said the company also had some opportunities in the US with its converted fast ferries being used as troop and equipment carriers.
Another WA company winning work overseas is Calytrix.
That company secured some work as part of the Australian contribution to the Joint Strike Fighter program.
While that role is only a relatively small one in the scheme of the overall project, Calytrix managing director Martin Rhinelander said it would provide a stepping stone to other opportunities.
He said the company was assessing opportunities with both the Australian and US defence forces.
While a contractor to the defence industry, Austindo has also achieved success outside of that field in the civil ship building scene.
It rewired one of the world’s largest livestock carriers the Badar III after it had sustained considerable damage from an onboard fire.
Austindo managing director Charlie Reeves said it had been a six-month job that the company had completed in six weeks.
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