BENALLA, AUSTRALIA, February 25, 2021 – In an important step to strengthen the U.S.-Australia strategic defense relationship, U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Ingleton, the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation located within the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, observed bilateral cooperation in a munitions manufacturing project at the Benalla Munitions Manufacturing Plant in Victoria February 23.
Australia Defence Force senior leaders Brig. Gen. Haydn Kohl, the Director General for Explosive Materiel, and Brig. Gen. Sue Graham, the Director General for Army Logistics were also part of the visit.
The marquee event of the visit showcased the trial work that recently began to establish an Australian domestic filling and production capability for the M795 155mm high-explosive artillery projectile. This trial work is part of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) signed between the U.S. Army’s Development Command Armaments Center and Australian defense industry partner, Thales Australia.
The kickoff of the work at Benalla—which is an Australian government-owned, contractor-operated facility—marks an important milestone towards assuring strategic supply security for the Australian Army as well as growing core industrial skills in high-explosive manufacturing and artillery projectile filling in support of the Australian Defence Force.
“I am pleased Brig. Gen. Kohl and Graham were able to join me as we witness this great milestone in Australian industry capability,” Ingleton said. “U.S. cooperation with Australia on production of 155mm projectiles is a key first step as we look to expand to other ammunition and achieve mutually beneficial results that contribute to and complement each of our industrial bases and operational readiness.”
The M795 155mm high-explosive artillery projectile is the munition of choice for howitzer artillery systems in-service with the U.S. military. The Australian Army, U.S. Army, and U.S. Marine Corps all employ the M777 Lightweight Towed Howitzer, which boosts the bilateral alliance’s strategic value during combined training and coalition operations in terms of interchangeability, interoperability, and integration.
“The Australian Defence Force has a stated intent to expand our industrial base for munitions and this collaborative work with the U.S. is critical to building our capability and knowledge,” added Kohl. “In the future, I see our industry partners not only supplying the ADF but also serving as a second source of supply to applicable U.S. Marine Corps and U.S Army forces regionally aligned to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.”
During his visit, Ingleton also toured the High-Explosives Production Plant in Mulwala and met with the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Proof and Experimental Unit in Graytown, Australia.