Australia signed a security agreement with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) on 14 November which will enable the sharing of classified technical information with the European procurement organisation.
While Australia isn’t a member of OCCAR, which is made up of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, it has interests in several OCCAR-managed programs. These include programs for two of the three services including the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) and Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) for the Army, and the MU90 Impact Lightweight Torpedo for the Navy.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) currently fields the MU90 Impact aboard its Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class air warfare destroyers. The torpedo is also set to equip the Hunter-class frigate and potentially any future ‘Tier 2’ combatant.
Uniquely, Australia is the only non-European state that has the title of “participant” in an OCCAR-managed program as a result of signing onto the M-90 Impact Lightweight Torpedo In-Service Support Program (ISSP) in May 2023, alongside France, Germany and Italy.
The new information security agreement, termed a “General Security Agreement” by OCCAR, is a standard agreement between the organisation and non-member states involved in its programs. In general terms, the agreements align different standards of classification between parties, exempt classified information passed on by OCCAR from being disclosed to non-members without the organisations' consent, and establish a scheme for visits to secure locations.
In a statement, Defence Minister Richard Marles said that the agreement with OCCAR would help “enhance” Australia’s cooperation with OCCAR and Europe more broadly.
“Australia’s strategic relationship with Europe continues to grow, and this arrangement is a true reflection of our strategic and industrial ties. Participation in OCCAR programs reflects the Albanese Government’s emphasis on cost-effective and efficient acquisition of complex Defence capabilities,” he said.