Heavy Hitters On Board For WA Defence Conference

WA Defence Conference 2016

Global heavy-hitters have lined up to speak and network next month at CCI’s inaugural WA Defence Conference 2016 – ‘Doing Business with Defence’.

Confirmed speakers include BAE Systems, which is shortlisted for the $35 billion program to build nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, and Henderson-based Austal, which is currently securing suppliers for its Pacific Patrol Boat replacement contract.

Rheinmetall, a huge supplier of military equipment and technology based in Düsseldorf, Germany, will also step up to the speaker’s podium come December. And those lucky enough to secure tickets will hear the latest from Federal Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne about opportunities for WA industry.

Other senior industry representatives from around the country have been confirmed to address the audience including global security and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, the Fortune 500 leading third party logistics and supply chain management provider C.H. Robinson that recently acquired APC Logistics for $225 Million to expand in Australia, comprehensive services provider to the defence and national security markets globally Serco and local global supplier with extensive capabilities in delivering technology to defence L3 Oceania.

KPMG Lead Partner Defence – Mike Kalms, Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) General Manager Department of Industry, Innovation and Science – Andrew Garth and Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) Director General Major Surface Ships – Commodore Steve Tiffen have also confirmed to be flying into Perth to speak.

With WA’s supply chain abuzz with gossip on who will build what, and where, for the Federal Government’s $89 billion naval replenishment project, the timing of the conference could hardly be better.

This month the Government will issue a request for tender (RFT) for its $3-4 billion SEA 1180 project to build 12 new 80m offshore patrol vessels – the first two in Adelaide and the remainder in WA.

It is a key step in the Government’s plan to award the OPV contract by late next year.

Currently the Department of Defence has shortlisted three European companies – Damen of the Netherlands, along with Luerssen and Fassmer, both of Germany – to design the new vessels.

As part of the RFT, the designers will need to make an offer to Australian shipbuilders to partner them, and to manage sub-contractors to supply the twelve OPVs out to 2029-30, Defence officials told an industry briefing last month in Perth.

Big local shipbuilders such as BAE Systems and Austal are expected to be firmly in the frame as the designers each try to form a winning construction and supply team.

“We are obviously talking to all three of those designers on how we can work together to best deliver those programs,” Tim Speer, Austal’s Market Development Manager, Australian Defence, said at a recent CCI Sundowner. Austal also pitched its wares at last month’s Euronaval 2016 conference and exhibition in Paris.

CCI Chief Executive Deidre Willmott, meanwhile, has also been busy in promoting WA’s supply chain capabilities offshore, after accompanying WA Commerce Minister Michael Mischin on a European defence visit, which included talks with the three OPV designers. While in Europe they also toured the naval dockyard of submarine contractor DCNS – appointed this year to build Australia’s new submarine fleet – at Cherbourg in the north of France.

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