Missile defence flagged over Korea threats

James Hall
Christopher Pyne says North Korea's behaviour may result in missile defence shields on Navy ships.

The federal government is considering upgrading the Navy's new air warfare destroyers to include missile defence shields after "very irregular behaviour" by North Korea, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne says.

Following the rogue nation's latest missile launch, Mr Pyne says Australia may modify the $1.3 billion defence system announced in June to be seaborne rather than land-borne.

"In the defence white paper, and the integrated investment plan, upgrades of the warfare destroyer capabilities have been already flagged," he told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

But he said a weapon similar to the United States' land-based missile defence shield could take as long as 10 years to build and cost at least $10 billion.

Protection from intercontinental ballistic missiles will also be considered for the nine frigates being built in Adelaide.

The highly lethal submarines, also being built in Adelaide, would give Australia a "path to sovereignty" and become the regional power in the South Pacific, Mr Pyne said.

French contractor Naval Group will construct those warships and announced at their headquarters' launch on Wednesday they have enlisted three local companies.

Mr Pyne said a recognised definition of a local build was 60 per cent but a major priority of the project would be to maximise local involvement.

Australian industry inclusion is expected to add about 2800 jobs annually - 1100 of those directly employed and 1700 in the supply chain.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the South Australian and federal governments were on the same page on this issue.

"There are just so many jobs that are going to flow from the future submarines, future frigates and future patrol boats program," he said.

"The challenge for us is to make sure we have the people with the skills, the businesses with the capabilities to take advantage of these contracts."

Coffey Services Australia, Andrew Symonds and Precision Hydrographic Services will assist with surveying and are the first of many companies to benefit from the $50 billion project, Mr Pyne says.

"This announcement today is worth approximately $1 million for these three businesses and will support 26 jobs here in Adelaide," he said.