Thales Australia is set to begin production of the 155mm M795 artillery projectiles in Benalla, Victoria in early next year.

Production work will include filling the steel projectile bodies with high explosive (HE) TNT, final assembly, and quality inspections.

The filled projectiles will undergo evaluation to ensure they meet the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and US military specifications.

Australian-made TNT is crucial in the development of Australia’s sovereign munitions capability.

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The TNT contains toluene supplied by Australian SME Viva Energy. After undergoing two years of rigorous testing and evaluation, the TNT is then qualified for use by the US authorities.

Thales noted that the Australian TNT qualification followed earlier announcements this year regarding Thales Australia and the US Army’s Development Command Armaments Centre establishing a ‘sovereign manufacturing capability’ for 155mm M795 HE projectiles in the country.

Thales Australia sovereign Munitions business general manager Dion Habner said: “I am immensely proud of our highly skilled Australia team who have worked for over three years, working through the rigorous certification processes that have enabled the creation of a true sovereign-manufactured munitions capability in Australia.

“This is an essential step in increasing Australia’s industrial capability in advanced manufacturing and self-reliance, which is vital to delivering a capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force.”

Last month, Thales Australia revealed plans to invest in advanced manufacturing equipment to increase the country’s capability to produce guided weapons.