South Australia: a beacon for defence industry expansion

Confidence in South Australia’s growing defence industry is driving new investments and expanding capability across the supply chain.

South Australia has an expert defence industry with the experience to play a critical role in providing the capabilities our nation needs.

Seven of the world’s top 10 defence companies and a growing community of 400+ defence SMEs have operations in the state.

The announcement that South Australia will be the future home of Australia’s next-generation submarine build has understandably attracted a lot of attention across the maritime sector however there are many other projects across domains such as land, aerospace, cyber, and space secured for the state.

Industry leaders see South Australia as the ideal location to secure and deliver on Defence contracts, and with boundless opportunities to collaborate and expand there is a significant reduction in investment risk for businesses looking to grow.

We spoke with some of the state’s innovative defence companies to find out what capabilities they are expanding from South Australia.

L-R CG Chair Jamie McClug Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland and SA Premier Peter Malinauskas at the recent sod turn for Babcock's $31m Torrens Rd facility

CG Chair Jamie McClug, Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland,
and SA Premier Peter Malinauskas at the recent sod turn for Babcock’s $31m Torrens Rd facility

Babcock: gearing up to support AUKUS agenda

Babcock Australasia Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cridland, said, “we see huge opportunity and potential in South Australia as the nation’s Defence State”.

The international company has its Australasian headquarters in Adelaide and employs 1,700 staff, including more than 500 people based in South Australia, and growing.

In South Australia, the company recently opened a second office that is dedicated to supporting the nation’s $877 million Defence High Frequency Communications System.

There, it provides operation, management and maintenance upgrades to support the Australian Defence Force on critical operations in Australia – and overseas.

“This has been Babcock Australasia’s single largest contract to date and secures more than 150 jobs across Australia, the majority of which are based in Adelaide – and it’s another exciting step forward in our strategic growth in the region,” Mr Cridland said.

Babcock Australasia has also recently announced construction of a new $31 million integrated manufacturing, warehouse and office facility in Adelaide’s western suburbs, which it says will cater for any potential AUKUS support in the future.

“It is clear South Australia will play a huge part in the delivery of the nation’s inaugural nuclear-powered submarines and Babcock stands ready to support the Commonwealth in this national endeavour,” Mr Cridland said.

“Recognising this huge opportunity, Babcock and HII have also combined forces in Australia, working together to support critical capability requirements for the AUKUS nuclear submarine program and providing a true tri-lateral offering.”

Justin Struik inside the Aerobond robotics transmissivity test room for the manufacturing and repairing of radomes

Justin Struik inside the Aerobond robotics transmissivity test room for the manufacturing
and repairing of radomes

Aerobond expands defence focus

Aerobond was established in 2010 to provide sustainment services to the aviation industry.

Fast forward 13 years and the company are expanding in response to defence opportunities, most recently signing a contract with Kongsberg Defence Australia to produce launcher canisters for the Royal Australian Navy’s Naval Strike Missile program.

Aerobond’s Founder and Managing Director, Justin Struik, said the company was making its biggest investment in the business to date, developing a new, purpose-built 3500sqm facility in Adelaide, where the launcher canisters would be manufactured.

As a result of the contract, Aerobond is also seeking to double their workforce with an additional 35 roles in South Australia being created.

Mr Struik said expanding Aerobond’s services to the defence sector – something he began pursuing during the pandemic – “provided more predictability in terms of work in the pipeline”.

“The contract we’ve been awarded is one is one of the biggest secured by an SME in South Australia – and that’s something we’re really proud of,” he said.

“Our business success is built on the talented people we hire and they commitment they make to the quality of parts we produce and maintain.”

“I feel proud that we have created a business that is now able to provide further opportunities here