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Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions set to produce and export medium-calibre ammunition for US Joint Strike Fighter programme


In an Australian first, Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) is set to produce and export ammunition for the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.


Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions set to produce and export medium calibre ammunition for US Joint Strike Fighter programme After penetrating the target envelope, the heavy metal pellets disintegrate into multiple fragments. As the fragments penetrate deeper into the target interior, the number of fragments increasing, turning into a cascade of heavy metal. This is a highly effective means of neutralizing armoured targets on the ground and in the air. FAP cartridges are designed for air-to-ground and air-to-air engagements (Picture source: Rheinmetall)


RNM has announced that it will begin production of 25mm Frangible Armoured Piercing (FAP) projectiles at the federal government-owned Benalla plant in Victoria.

FAP is a new type of high-performance, explosive-free, multi-purpose ammunition for fighter planes and fighter-bombers. Each round is armed with a penetrator consisting of individual frangible heavy metal pellets and heavy metal sub-projectiles. After penetrating the target envelope, the heavy metal pellets disintegrate into multiple fragments. As the fragments penetrate deeper into the target interior, the number of fragments increasing, turning into a cascade of heavy metal. This is a highly effective means of neutralizing armoured targets on the ground and in the air. FAP cartridges are designed for air-to-ground and air-to-air engagements. Owing to their special design – and unlike conventional aircraft ammunition – FAP cartridges never result in ricochets as the projectile core disintegrates upon impact. The FAP multi-purpose round is available in calibre 20 mm x 102, 25 mm x 137 and 27 mm x 145.

The deal marks the first expansion of the RNM joint venture beyond its $60m artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough, Queensland.

Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions is a global multinational weapons manufacturer, while Australian-owned NIOA is the leading supplier of weapons and munitions to the Australian Defence Force.

The new Load Assemble Pack (LAP) line at Benalla will be capable of producing 20mm to 35mm medium-calibre ammunition.

Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions aims to serve as a secondary source supplier to the US government for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.

Werner Kraemer, chairman of the board of directors at RNM, said that with the Maryborough project on track, it was time to expand the footprint and capabilities of the joint venture company in Australia.

“We are totally committed to this joint venture and the Australian market. By committing to develop this medium-calibre production capability here in Australia, we will not only create local jobs and build a supply chain, we will also be developing a proven and sustainable export market,” Mr Kraemer said.

NIOA managing director Robert Nioa noted that the Benalla project would enable development of a true sovereign capability in medium-calibre munitions in Australia.

“The establishment of this new capability at Benalla is a first for Australian industry. On the back of a 100 percent private sector investment, we will ensure that future munitions supplied to the ADF will be made right here in Australia,” Mr Nioa said.

The line is scheduled to be installed in the first half of 2021 and be at full production by September that year.