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Thales Australia has completed the first production lot of a new Australian-made munition, BLU-111, for the airforce.

Australia Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that the milestone was a key addition to the country’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter capability.

Price added that 15 Australian companies, including five small businesses, were involved in this work.

Thales’ new BLU-111 will have the same range and performance metrics as currently used General Purpose Bombs.

However, the new munition will be significantly safer to store, transport and operate.

Price said: “This work establishes a strategically important sovereign manufacturing capability to support the Australian Defence Forces.

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“It is a practical example of the government’s ongoing commitment to domestic manufacturing of munitions, which is one of the ten Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities under the 2018 Defence Industrial Capability Plan.”

Last year, the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Industry Plan for Munitions and Small Arms Research, Design, Development and Manufacture was released by the Australian Government.

Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities are critical to defence and must be developed or supported by Australian industry. They identify various elements of the Australian Defence industrial base at a capability level to encourage innovation in existing technologies.

In October 2018, the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) No 3 Squadron received the tenth F-35A JSF at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, US.

This was followed by acceptance testing activities and marked an important milestone in the Australian JSF project. The new aircraft joined the other Australian F-35 aircraft on the flight line.