Australian manufacturing company Elphinstone has secured a contract to manufacture 45 turrets and hulls for the Australian Army’s new Huntsman howitzers.

The move is part of the $720m (A$1bn) defence contract, signed by Hanwha Defense Australia last year, to deliver new self-propelled howitzers for the Australian Army.

According to Australia’s Department of Defence statement, the works at Elphinstone will help the local Tasmanian economy, and create approximately 55 new jobs.

As agreed, Elphinstone will carry out the steel fabrication, machining, and painting of the turrets and hulls at their Wynyard factory, in Tasmania.

After this, the components will be shipped to Hanwha’s Geelong facility, where the Huntsman vehicles will be assembled.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “My government will always back Tasmanians and ensure they benefit from our significant investment in the defence industry.

“After decades specialising in mining manufacturing capabilities, Elphinstone has secured its first defence contract. This is a big win for our highly skilled workers in Wynyard.

“As manufacturing ramps up, around 55 new jobs will be created for locals in north-west Tasmania, in so many roles, including boilermaker welders, painters, fitters, machinists, and other trades.”

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that the local industry will play a key role in supplying, as well as sustaining, the howitzers.

In the future, Elphinstone will also carry out structural repairs for the Huntsman howitzers, in addition to other design modifications and changes.

Minister Price said: “Our defence investments are giving Elphinstone an important opportunity to diversify its manufacturing operations.

“Our decision to back Australian industry is a demonstration of our determination to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a lethal, relevant, and effective sovereign defence capability in Australia.”

Earlier this month, the UK announced that it had agreed to strengthen its partnership with Australia in defence and security.