Newcastle contractor Armour Composite Engineering (ACE) is on the cusp of hitting the big time, thanks to a $3.2 million defence contract.
Liberal Senator for NSW Hollie Hughes was in Newcastle today to announce the partnership, which will see the local company manufacture curved body armour for the Australian Defence Force.
The materials used to make the body armour allow for high curvature to suit any size or shape, which is much different to the flat plate currently in service.
“This technology, this curved body armour is not only so much lighter, it’s so much more appropriate for our female operatives,” Senator Hughes said.
“This is the innovation coming out of the Hunter that is going to protect the lives of so many of our troops serving overseas.”
ACE Chief Executive Adam Fairbairn said the contract would make a tremendous difference to the company.
‘It will help us to bridge the gap between a small supply here in Australia, to the ability to service large orders for allied countries,” he said.
The United States has already shown interest, which will pave the way to an unimaginable level of success for the company.
“Australia uses 5,000 to 10,000 units every couple of years, but the US, for example, is quite interested in our technology and they use hundreds of thousands every year,” Mr Fairbairn said.
The new curved armour reduces the fatigue of the wearer and increases their safety.
“With a standard body armour plate, they’re quite flat, there’s minimal curvature – when that sits out of the chest it’s a bit of an obstacle and you can’t get your arms around it,” Mr Fairbairn said.
“By curving the armour around the shape of the body, it allows for full movement so people can access all of their gear.”
And, it’s not just accommodating for women.
“We’ve found there’s quite a few men in the defence force and other government agencies that are quite fit and even the shape of their torso creates restrictions with their body armour, so we have actually made profiles for them as well,” he said.
Senator Hughes added the Hunter was poised to be central to the nation’s COVID recovery.
“Manufacturing and the job creation that comes alongside that, it’s not just the jobs that ACE is going to create with its grant, it’s all the jobs around that that are going to be created and help boost this region and get people back to work and support these small and medium sized businesses,” she said.
“Manufacturing is a real focus of the Morrison Government and Newcastle is in the centre of that.
“You’ve got the infrastructure here – the ports, the roads, the rail and all the businesses that require that logistical support, it already exists here – and the Hunter is in one of the prime positions and is definitely a focus of the Morrison Government to ensure it leads the way out of our COVID recovery.”
ACE will begin field trials with Defence in the new year. The armour is expected to be rolled out within the next two years.