Can the naval shipbuilding industry unlock export opportunities for Australia?


Are we up to the challenge?

BAE Systems certainly believes it can - and it has a proud 64-year history of working closely with Australian companies to back up that assertion.

The Nulka system, which has been Australia’s largest regular defence export for many years, is a shining example of how close collaboration can create world class results.

The Nulka system is a highly effective missile decoy, used to protect warships. BAE Systems first became involved with Nulka in the late 1980s, when the Company was contracted for the engineering development of the Nulka system and rocket vehicle.

The early involvement of industry, supported by the partnership between Australia and the United States, were crucial ingredients that led to the full production of Nulka by 1999.

In 2007 Nulka reached a landmark, providing fit out for 100 ships — 83 in the United States Navy, 14 in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and three in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Three years later another milestone was achieved, with the delivery of the 1,000th Nulka round.

Together, the US Navy, the RAN and the RCN have invested approximately A$1 billion in Nulka, and the system is expected to be a core component of BAE Systems’ future navy ship building plan.

Now BAE Systems Australia is the Nulka prime contractor and System Design Agent throughout the world. In May this year BAE Systems successfully delivered the final Nulka Missile decoy for the current Collaborative Rounds Contract.

The A$1 billion contract covered the manufacture of over 1,400 Nulka decoys, spares and support equipment for the United States Navy, the RAN and RCN. Focus for BAE Systems now shifts to completing the development of the next generation Nulka product.

The Nulka system has been Australia’s largest regular defence export for many years and is a shining example of how close collaboration can create world class results.

BAE Systems’ Nulka success was heralded by the Australian Government, with the Federal Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, describing Nulka as the high-point in Australia’s defence industry export achievements.

“The long term relationships established through this highly successful program will continue with the development of the next generation of Nulka, ensuring the jobs of around 100 Australians,” Mr Pyne said.

“Payload development and testing for the next generation of Nulka decoy to meet emerging threats is underway in conjunction with the US, with testing to date being successful.”

The ongoing relationship with Nulka is a model for how collaboration can lead to world-class innovation and export opportunities, according to former BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Glynn Phillips.

“Our strong international reputation and networks enable us to provide access for our partners to our global maritime business,” Mr Phillips said.

“It allows our partners not only to tap into existing programs as a supplier or manufacturer, but also to benefit from the knowledge sharing that BAE Systems brings in through developments like the digital shipyard, and other innovations.”

In 2007 Nulka reached a landmark, providing protection for 100 ships — 83 in the United States Navy, 14 in the Royal Australian Navy and three in the Royal Canadian Navy.

What is Nulka?

The Nulka system brings together advanced flight vehicle guidance and control techniques, and sophisticated RF electronic technologies. Fully autonomous after launch, the unique flight vehicle design allows the decoy’s flight-path to be maintained with a high degree of precision over a wide range of environmental conditions, resulting in extremely high levels of mission effectiveness against modern anti-ship missiles.

The thrust vector controlled solid fuel rocket motor provides rapid response against detected threats, while the extended decoy flight duration supports the engagement of multiple threats. Accurate control of the flight vehicle allows for optimal positioning of the decoy, independent of ship manoeuvre, and minimises the likelihood of collateral damage to friendly forces.

Nulka is an integral element of a comprehensive, integrated layered defence system, and its unique capabilities complement conventional hard-kill missile and gun systems. Nulka has been integrated with Arleigh Burke DDG, Ticonderoga CG, Oliver Hazard Perry FFG (Australian Adelaide Class FFG), San Antonio LPD, Whidbey Island LPD, Bertholf, ANZAC FFH and Iroquois DDG class ships.

All USN cruisers and destroyers equipped with AEGIS have Nulka included in their layered defense system. Nulka is fitted to the RAN’s Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks, and is being fitted progressively to the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers.

BAE Systems Australia is the Nulka prime contractor and System Design Agent. Lockheed Martin Inc (USA) is the Design Agent for the electronic warfare payload.

Aerojet Inc (USA) manufactures the rocket motor. BAE Systems Australia manufactures the flight control hardware at their manufacturing facility in Edinburgh Parks (SA), and assembles and tests the completed Nulka Round at their Nulka Round Assembly Facility in Mulwala (NSW).

The world-leading Nulka technology is expected to be a key component of Australia’s future maritime layered defence capability.

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