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Sixty and still going strong

60 Years in Australia
Canberra, Australia: Australia’s most versatile defence contractor this week acknowledged its humble beginnings testing missiles at the Woomera Rocket Range in the 1950s.

In 2013, BAE Systems Australia celebrates 60 years of local operations and marked the historic occasion at a small ceremony in Canberra today.

Chief Executive David Allott reminded invited guests of the frenetic scientific endeavour that took place in the South Australian desert, 500 kilometres north-west of Adelaide.

“The Cold War fuelled a tense but competitive environment where innovation was critical and the Bristol Aeroplane Company played an important role,” he said.

Former Director Derek Marley said the Company’s successful trials of Rapier and Bloodhound rockets at the defence testing ground, led to the signing of a contract with the Australian government.

“That contract to make and test equipment was the turning point for the Company.” Mr Allott agreed: “It’s a history that we’re very proud of and a mission that we continue today; ensuring Australia is at the forefront of modern defence and security capability.”

Across the country, 5 500 employees support a sovereign defence industry, providing a balanced defence capability across all the domains land, sea, air, space and cyber.

Mr Allott said that the company’s 60-year Australian history provided a good indicator of what is ahead for BAE Systems: “We’re certainly here for the long haul.”

“Our business strategy is based very much on the long-term; we are committed to creating more cost-effective solutions for our customers in what is an increasingly challenging environment.

“We’re entering a new era, developing and supporting next generation systems in a digital age. We’re excited about the future and we’ll be here for many years to come.”

History at a glance:
 • The Bristol Aeroplane Company began testing the first generation air defence missile systems at Woomera in 1953
 • Testing of the English Electric Thunderbird missile for the British Army began in 1954
 • The Bristol Aircraft Company and English Electric Company merged to become the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) in 1959
 • In 1972 Testing of the BAC Seawolf missile for the Royal Navy commence
 • In 1977, BAC (Australia) was renamed British Aerospace Australia
 • British Aerospace Australia purchased AWA Defence Industries in 1996
 • BAE Systems was formed in 1999, following the merger of British Aerospace with Marconi Electronic Systems
 • BAE Systems Australia purchased Tenix Defence in June 2008