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Australian-made 500lb warheads ready for F-35s

written by Adam Thorn | January 24, 2022

The new F-35a warheads were developed by local firm Australian Munitions.

A new generation of safer warheads developed in Australia have been delivered to No. 3 Squadron to be used on the F-35.

The 500-pound (227-kilogram) BLU-111(AUS)B/B is based on a US original but tailored to meet local production methods by regional-based firm Australian Munitions.

Squadron Leader Ryan Kell said the new warheads represent a “generational change” through their use of polymer-bonded explosive fill and design features that reduce the likelihood of these detonating during a safety incident.

The explosives are likely to be also used by the Hawk 127 lead-in fighter, F/A-18F Super Hornet and future platforms such as the unmanned MQ-9B Sky Guardian.

The BLU-111(AUS)B/B were delivered to No. 81 Wing at RAAF Base Williamtown and were loaded onto the F-35A Lightning II for a training drill.

AIR 6000 weapons project engineering manager SQNLDR Kell said, “The BLU-111(AUS)B/B is intended for use in both Paveway II laser guided bombs and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) family of guided bombs.”

Local production of the BLU-111(AUS)B/B commenced following the successful delivery of the earlier BLU-126(AUS)/B.

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“Having 500lb bombs produced in Australia increases our self-reliance and resilience of our air-combat platforms and the warfighting capability they provide,” Air Force Director Combat Capability, Group Captain Guy Adams, said.

“As a future line of effort, the ability to act as a second line of supply to allied nations could see Australia providing warheads for use by allies during operations or training, which would greatly enhance international relationships and interoperability.”

Australian Munitions is a subsidiary of Thales Australia and is the largest supplier of explosive ordnance to the ADF, delivering ammunition, propellants and explosives.

The business can trace its heritage back to the late 19th century, through the establishment of the Colonial Ammunition Company in Victoria.

It manufactures at Benalla in Victoria and Mulwala in NSW. The Benalla site produces ammunition, explosive ordnance and other munitions, while the Mulwala site focuses on propellants and explosives.

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