Australia aiming at top 10 power for military exports

The Australian government has declared it is on track to achieve its goal of becoming a top 10 military exporter after Western Australia's Austal won two orders for U.S. Navy ships. Austal, the leading global producer of aluminum ships, on Monday announced that it would build another two combat ships for the U.S. Navy, adding to the two ships it is currently building and eight it has already delivered.

Australia aiming at top 10 power for military exports Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy (Picture source: Austal)

Australia's Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo hailed the new deal and announced that the government's new export credit agency, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), would loan CEA technologies, a Canberra-based defence contractor, 90 million Australian dollars (64.5 million U.S. dollars), Xinhua reports.

It marks the first time that the EFIC has given a loan after it was established in January with the capability to lend 3.8 billion Australian dollars (2.7 billion U.S. dollars) to boost Australia's defense exports. "The Austal order shows how the Defense Export Facility is helping Australian exporters sell more of their Australian products to the world, helping drive economic growth and create new Australian jobs," Ciobo told reporters.

David Singleton, chief executive of Austal, said the new orders meant the company had a contract for 10 vessels to be built by 2025 and confirmed it was in negotiations with Trinidad and Tobago for two patrol boats. "This latest order from the U.S. Navy is a tremendous endorsement of Austal's unique aluminum trimaran and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the United States Navy," Singleton told reporters on Monday. "We have been very successful, winning two Littoral Combat Ships per annum in competitions in each of the last three US Government financial years." he value of the new contracts was not announced by either Austal or the U.S. Navy.

Austal in August reported a 39-million-Australian dollar (27.9 million U.S. dollars) profit for the financial year 2017-18, a record-high for the company and more than double the 2016-17 figure.