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Minister for Defence visits defence projects in Spain.



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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 186/2008

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE VISITS DEFENCE PROJECTS IN SPAIN

Minister for Defence, The Hon Joel Fitzgibbon, today saw first-hand the progress being made on some of Australia’s largest acquisition projects, during a visit to Spanish ship designer and shipbuilder, Navantia.

Mr Fitzgibbon travelled to Navantia’s headquarters in Ferrol, Spain, to discuss progress with two major defence projects, which will provide key future capability for Navy: namely the Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD) - designed by Navantia and being built in Australia - and the amphibious Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD).

He also visited EADS CASA who are building the new-generation Airbus Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and took the opportunity to tour the Eurofighter facility, and to discuss the aircraft’s capabilities.

“This visit provided me the opportunity to see the future of Australia’s naval capability for myself, and I have received a comprehensive update on the progress of these projects,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Although the AWDs will be built in Australia, Navantia, as the platform designer for the ships, is working closely with the AWD Alliance to deliver these highly capable vessels, and I am satisfied with progress at this early stage.”

“Navantia continues to perform on or ahead of schedule and we acknowledge Navantia’s commitment to timely delivery and completion of these naval acquisition projects. However I am also conscious of the risks and challenges the projects present, and I intend to keep a close eye on their progress,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

While in Ferrol, Mr Fitzgibbon also had the opportunity to meet Australian Defence staff associated with the projects.

“We have a great team of Australian military and civilian personnel working on the AWD and LHD projects, and I valued our discussions on how these are progressing,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Fitzgibbon will now travel to Portugal for a counterpart visit, and from there travel to London to attend the second Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial (AUKMIN) Talks in Leeds, also attended by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith; the Secretary for Defence, Mr Nick Warner; and Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

Media contacts: Jack Smith (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0408 116 423

Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664