​Boeing opens R&D innovation hub in South Australia

The aerospace giant's new Adelaide hub will focus on C3I, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as advanced experimentation and prototyping.

The Boeing Company on Thursday announced that it is expanding its defence presence in South Australia, opening a new research, development, and innovation hub in Adelaide.

The hub will work on initiatives spanning C3I, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as advanced experimentation and prototyping.

Opening the hub in his hometown, Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said Boeing is an integral part of Australia's defence industry and pointed to the aerospace giant as being the partner of choice for some of Australia's largest and most complex defence projects, such as the E-7A Wedgetail, P-8A Poseidon, and Collins Class submarine.

The minister said it was one of many defence-focused offices he has opened over the past nine months as part of the expansion of Australia's defence industry. He said such growth is reaping benefits for both the South Australian and national economy.

"For the first time in living memory, defence industry showed up in the national accounts in the last quarter of last year as helping to drive the economy -- larger than the National Broadband Network," he told reporters on Thursday.

Pyne said the federal government expects to spend AU$195 billion over the next 10 years to continue that growth.

"[It is] the largest peacetime build-up of our military capability in our history," he said.

The South Australian government is backing Boeing through its Investment Attraction South Australia and Defence SA groups, but has declined to reveal how much money the company has received from the state government.

Boeing, which manufactures commercial airliners, military aircraft, and defence, space, and security systems, has 140,000 employees worldwide. Locally, Boeing Defence Australia has created over 1,180 new jobs in the last two years, almost doubling its workforce to more than 2,000 employees across the country. The Adelaide hub is expected to create an additional 250 jobs over the next five years.

Boeing's biggest presence outside of the US is in Australia, with Queensland boasting the lion's share of the 3,500 Australian jobs it maintains.

In July, the Queensland government announced a AU$1 million investment in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) technology, expected to benefit the LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue, and environmental management industries.

In addition to the cash injection, the Queensland government has partnered with aerospace giant Boeing, in conjunction with Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, Shell's QGC project, and Telstra, to further the drone research.

Boeing established an Australian branch of Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T) advanced research and development unit in March 2008 to better support its businesses in Australia by providing a focal point for collaboration with research and development organisations including universities, private sector providers, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

Over the course of its 22-year relationship with the CSIRO, both Boeing and CSIRO have jointly invested more than AU$100 million into R&D in Australia.

The federal government announced the launch of its AU$730 million "Next Generation" Technologies Fund in March, which Pyne said would help incubate "creative solutions" to protect the nation from new threats.

As part of the initiative, the government said it will launch defence cooperative research centres, university research networks, a defence research accelerator scheme, an innovation research program for small business, and expanded technology "foresighting" activities.

Also announced in March was the AU$75 million critical infrastructure upgrades to two of the Australian Signals Directorate's national security facilities in Canberra.

With AAP