British missile factories could receive more work building air-to-air missiles under a major multi-million pound contract being negotiated with the Australian airforce.
Matra BAe Dynamics said that as the only company left in the Australian competition for short range air-to-air missiles, it had been asked to quote for a specific number of Asraam missiles. This is the first export order for Asraams in which the company beat off stiff US and Israeli competition.
Though Matra BAe Dynamics is now an Anglo-French joint venture, the Asraams will be built solely at British sites where Asraams for the Royal Air Force will be built also.
Project management and engineering will be at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, software and systems integration at Bristol, and production at Lostock in Greater Manchester.
Australia’s missiles will be manufactured between 1999 and 2000.
They will be fitted to Australian F/A-18 fighters and Matra BAe Dynamics hopes it can now attack the market for such missiles on F/A-18s operated elsewhere in the world.
A Matra BAe Dynamics spokesman said that it was hoped a contract with Australia could be signed in the second half of this year.