British Aerospace Australia logo
British Aerospace Australia logo
The history of BAE Systems Australia can be traced back to the testing of the first generation air defence missile systems in South Australia’s Woomera Desert in the early 1950s.

The company, which was spawned in the fierce rivalry of two highly competitive English aerospace companies, is today at the forefront of Australia’s military electronics engineering and systems research. As BAE Systems Australia it produces a wide range of security and defence related products and services.

It started in 1953, when two support teams from the United Kingdom, one from the Bristol Aeroplane Company and the other from the English Electric Company, arrived in Adelaide to conduct early guided missile trials at the Woomera Test Range.

The Bristol Aeroplane Company had been developing its Bloodhound Missile System while The English Electric Company was running trials on The Thunderbird Missile System. Both were high-altitude surface-to-air missile defence systems which would later enter service with the British Armed Forces.

The teams established their base of operations at the Anglo-Australian Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury, about 15 miles north of Adelaide, with testing carried out at Woomera. The two teams even took up residence in adjoining buildings at a former Second World War munitions storage complex.

Bristol BAC Bloodhound
Bristol BAC Bloodhound
By the time the Bloodhound and Thunderbird trials had been completed, both the Bristol Aeroplane Company and English Electric had been merged into British Aircraft Corporation.
Under this new combined banner, research and development trials continued at Woomera on the new Rapier System, a low-level anti-aircraft system and then a little later on the Seawolf ship-to-air missile. Sadly, Seawolf was to be the last weapon system the company would develop at Woomera.
During 1977 and under the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act, British Aircraft Corporation was nationalised along with the Hawker Siddeley Group and Scottish Aviation to form British Aerospace.

Subsequently operations in Australia were renamed British Aerospace Australia and exist today as BAE Systems Australia.


1953 Bristol Aeroplane Company / English Electric Company               
1963 British Aircraft Corporation Australia
1977 British Aerospace Australia
1999 BAE Systems

Woomera Prohibited Area

The Woomera Prohibited Area encompasses the traditional lands of six Aboriginal groups. The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkunytjatjara and Maralinga Tjarutja communities hold almost 30 per cent of the land in the west of the WPA as freehold title granted under South Australian legislation. Four other groups – Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara, Arabana, Gawler Ranges and Kokatha – hold native title over areas in the WPA.
As the birthplace of BAE Systems in Australia, the company continues to draw on the remote South Australian desert for inspiration. Red Ochre LABS, an arm of the Australian business that is also its engine room for future growth, is developing world-leading air, land, sea and cyber technologies to protect those who protect Australia.
We pay our respects to indigenous Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, belief and relationship with the land and waters of our beautiful Nation that have been cared for and protected by First Nations people and their ancestors for thousands of years.
12 Default Profile Image
BAE Systems
The information shown is based on that available at the time of the content creation. If you have any additions or corrections then please contact us via email - All images BAE Systems / Ron Smith copyright unless otherwise shown.

<< back to search