In a significant development for Australia’s national security and job market, the ADF has entrusted Thales with a role in advancing the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) maritime sustainment efforts at the Garden Island defence precinct in Sydney.

The contract, confirmed by Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy, is set to generate more than 800 local jobs and foster opportunities worth more than $700m (A$1.07bn) with Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) until 2028.

In collaboration with more than 500 Australian SMEs and its 460-strong workforce at Garden Island, Thales will spearhead sustainment, integration and life cycle management services. The partnership aims to enhance fleet sustainment delivery, ensuring that the RAN and its allied navies remain prepared and effective in maritime operations.

Jeff Connolly, CEO of Thales Australia & New Zealand, expressed gratitude for being selected as the regional maintenance partner. “We are grateful to be selected as the Australian Defence Force’s regional maintenance partner of choice, providing indispensable services and support to the Royal Australian Navy in the protection of our nation at Garden Island in Sydney.”

The newly awarded contract is projected to generate economic benefits, with more than $700m in opportunities for Australian SMEs and the addition of more than 40 apprentices, trainees and cadets at the Garden Island defence precinct by 2028. 

Minister Pat Conroy stressed the dual importance of job creation and national security. “Growing our sovereign naval shipbuilding industrial capability is not just good for jobs, it is imperative for our national security,” he said. “I am focused on making it easier for local industry to partner with defence, and this partnership with Thales Australia will help to do that.”

According to GlobalData’s The Global Naval Vessels and Surface Combatants Market 2023–2033 report, Australia plans to have its locally built Hunter-class frigates, based on the UK’s Type 26-class design, enter service by late 2020s.

The company’s collaboration with US Navy industrial enterprise partner ORBIS is a move to advance maritime sustainment operations, supporting the Australian Government’s national naval shipbuilding and sustainment enterprise. 

This partnership is expected to play a role in accelerating the growth of Australia’s maritime sustainment capability, securing the nation’s naval assets.

In Australia’s army domain, Thales Australia is also set to enhance the nation’s munition manufacturing capabilities through a partnership with the Australian Government.