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Weapons company's $7m deal to fit out 'soldier of the future'

Business

Queensland weapons supplier NIOA has won the first stage Federal Government contract of a project to modernise 26 weapons used by the Australian Defence Force.

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Under the $7 million deal, NIOA would fit out the “Australian soldier of the future” with next-generation pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, direct fire support weapons and munitions.

The company said it was the largest ever small arms replenishment program for the ADF.

The project will be delivered in three tranches over the next decade.

Subject to business case approval, some of the ammunition for the program will be manufactured at the Commonwealth Government-owned Benalla plant in regional Victoria where NIOA has a co- tenancy, while project offices have been set up in Melbourne and Canberra.

Munitions and small arms research, design, development and manufacture have been identified as one of the government’s top 10 Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.

NIOA chief executive Robert Nioa said the deal presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the company which started in the retail sporting shooters market in the early 1970’s before transitioning to a wholesaler of weapons and ammunition to the commercial, law enforcement and Defence markets.

“For NIOA, the LAND 159 program is all about the next generation in every way,” Robert Nioa said.

“The next generation of weapon systems, the next generation of Australia’s defence industry and, most importantly, the next generation of the ADF.”

Central to the successful NIOA bid was the engagement of Australian businesses in the supply chain underpinned by a longer-term vision to become a global exporter to allied defence forces around the world.

“The benefits of this program are expected to reverberate through the whole economy for decades to come,” NIOA said.

“Australian industry participation and collaboration is embedded in our strategy. What that means is that for the life of the program the ownership, the intellectual property, the jobs, the skills, the investment, the profits and the control will remain within Australia.”

Earlier this month, NIOA took up a 10-year co-tenancy at the Benalla munitions plant, producing medium and large calibre rounds for the ADF.

The Benalla project is part of a $130 million capital investment in domestic munitions and explosives manufacturing by NIOA over the next five years, including a $60 million artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough that will create 100 jobs when it is operational in 2022.

“What this shows is that NIOA’s investment is not only delivering national defence capability but also regional manufacturing jobs that in turn helps communities flourish and grow,” NIOA said.

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