Rheinmetall has announced that it is integrating its operations in Australia and New Zealand into a single operational unit with Gary Stewart appointed as managing director to lead the newly integrated Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) business.
This will include the existing operations of RDA, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia, Rheinmetall Electronic Solutions Australia and Logistic Solutions Australia.
According to the company, all businesses approaching the Australian and NZ governments under the name “Rheinmetall” will be unified within the framework of the new RDA organisation.
Stewart moves into the role after more than twelve months as chief operations officer at RDA, reporting to Andrew Fletcher. Fletcher has stepped down after two and a half years spent establishing the company’s local footprint.
“The timing is right to pass the baton to Gary, as the company moves from an establishment phase to one of consolidation and growth,” Fletcher said.
Stewart has significant defence and industry experience that includes senior management positions at General Dynamics Land Systems in Canada and Australia, as well as delivering project management and systems engineering expertise to a range of Australian programs. Prior to his work in industry, Stewart served for over a decade as an engineering officer in the RAAF.
In related news, RDA will establish an $80 million Technology and Product Development Fund as part of the AIC program for Land 400 Phase 2.
Stewart said the fund provides the missing link between fundamental research and product development that will underpin an enduring sovereign military vehicle capability in Australia.
“The fund will invest in the development of a range of new technologies and products for the Australian and global markets, ensure the sustainability of the industry in Australia, while also generating advanced manufacturing jobs and enriching the Australian economy.”
With an initial investment period of five years, Rheinmetall will use the fund for fundamental research in future technologies, and ongoing product development.
In relation to fundamental research, Rheinmetall is establishing programs with the CSIRO and selected academic institutions to conduct research that can be applied to underpin future capabilities. The initial areas of research include:
- Lightweight high performance materials for automotive and military applications, in partnership with the CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology;
- Advanced and hybrid manufacturing, in partnership with CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology;
- Autonomous systems, in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology; and
Advanced sensing, in partnership with the University of South Australia.
“The Technology Fund and partnerships will create a clear pathway for STEM graduates to enter an industry focused on military vehicles, turret systems and automotive technologies,” Stewart said. “It will also allow a clear commercialisation pathway for local companies to both the Rheinmetall Defence and Rheinmetall Automotive global supply chains.”
He added the second objective of the Rheinmetall Technology and Product Development Fund will be to contribute directly to the ongoing product development for Australian based vehicle and turret systems. This will allow Australian innovation, systems and ideas to be developed,
prototyped and tested in the Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE).