Caloundra firm joins Boeing to manufacture Australian combat aircraft

A Sunshine Coast business is set to play a key role in Australian defence aerospace manufacturing, sharing in a $34 million investment by the Liberal National Government.

HeliMods joins six other project partners and project lead Boeing Defence Australia in the manufacture of the pilotless MQ-28A Ghost Bat, the first combat aircraft produced in Australia in nearly fifty years.

HeliMods plans include the construction of a large manufacturing complex to create ground support systems for Boeing’s MQ-28A Ghost Bat program, as part of the recently announced $103 million Advanced Defence Aerospace Manufacturing Network project.

Federal Member for Fisher and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Andrew Wallace, welcomed the announcement as another show of confidence in the Sunshine Coast’s growing defence industry and manufacturing sector.

“Since being elected, I’ve committed myself to building a local defence industry on the Sunshine Coast. HeliMods is a demonstration of the talent and potential our region has to offer,” Mr Wallace said.

“I want Sunshine Coast manufacturers like Will Shrapnel and his team at HeliMods to reap the benefits of our historic $270 billion investment in boosting Australia’s defence industry and sovereign capability.

“What the pandemic showed us is we need to diversify our industry to attract the kinds of high-skilled jobs that a project such as this creates.

“This is cutting-edge, world-leading technology, not just for the Sunshine Coast’s manufacturing sector and local economy, but also for our national defence capability.”

Founder and Managing Director of HeliMods, Mr Shrapnel said that it was an honour to be part of the Boeing-led Aerospace and Defence Advanced Manufacturing Network.

“The support we will receive as a business through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative collaboration Stream will allow us and other network partners to scale up and provide world leading manufacturing technologies directly into major programs such as Boeing’s MQ-28,” Mr Shrapnel said.

“Growing up here on the Sunshine Coast, it was hard to imagine that a local business to have an opportunity to become a part of such an important initiative, and that our aerospace industry here on the Coast would be delivering at a level where we were recognised as significant on a global scale.

“I hope that this announcement can encourage others to pursue their passions from regional locations to make global impact.”

HeliMods is a world-leading provider of high value mission systems and equipment for aerospace and defence applications, with an advanced engineering and manufacturing base at the Caloundra Aerodrome in Caloundra, Queensland. The firm currently supports the Australian Defence Force and other essential government services across a growing number of key programs, including the Advanced Defence Aerospace Manufacturing Network.

The announcement comes on the back of a $47.4 million investment in another local Caloundra-based business, Eniquest, to manufacture diesel field generators for the ADF. Eniquest has also been manufacturing generators for the ADF’s protected mobility vehicles, the Bushmaster made in Victoria by defence contractor Thales.

It is an exciting time for the Sunshine Coast, with local firms playing a vital role in what is one of the most significant military aircraft projects in a generation and contributing to the complex defence supply chain in such a way that the Sunshine Coast will become a hub for the defence industry in the future.

INFORMATION:

Ghost Bats are a fighting drone that can fly alongside a fighter jet, acting as an uncrewed fighter, jammer, or decoy.

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