Australian Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds, announced on 16 September that Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia have been selected for the next stage of the LAND 400 Phase 3 programme, which aims to replace the Army’s fleet of M113 armoured personnel carriers (APC) with a modern, advanced, world-class infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
The Hanwha AS21 REDBACK and Rheinmetall’s KF-41 LYNX will now battle it out in a process that will give significant weight to the benefits to Australian industry accruing from a successful bid. Both companies have much to offer in this regard: Hanwha offers the possibility of a common procurement with the Korean armed forces, which would generate significant economies of scale and involve Australian industry in production of serious numbers. Rheinmetall offers the proven benefits that are already flowing from its recent LAND 400 Phase 2 win with the BOXER vehicle, together with the prospect of further investment and development of the Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence it is building in-country, coupled with a rapidly-developing Australian supply chain.
“These advanced vehicles will provide new levels of protection, firepower, mobility and enhanced communications,” Minister Reynolds said in a 16 September statement. “This project will deliver Australia a brand-new, cutting-edge capability. But we will also ensure we are well placed to work together with industry, to grow and develop the capability over the course of its life […] When fully delivered, the LAND 400 programme will allow Army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats, as part of an integrated Australian Defence Force.”
According to Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, the LAND 400 Phase 3 programme provides an exciting opportunity for Australian industry to contribute to building and maintaining these new IFVs. “Just as with the Phase 2 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Australian industry involvement and Australian workers are vital to this project,” she stated. “Phase 3 is another important opportunity for Australian industry to deliver leading edge technology for our Australian Defence Force […] During the testing-phase Defence will work with the shortlisted tenderers to ensure small and medium enterprises across Australia have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities.”
“The two companies have been assessed as offering vehicles that are best able to meet the requirements of the Army while providing value for money for Defence,” she continued. "However, if at any stage of this process there is a need, Defence can invite other tenderers to participate in the shortlist - to make sure we deliver the capability we need to the Army and the best value for the Australian taxpayer.”
A risk mitigation process will commence later this year, after which Defence will undertake a final detailed evaluation of the shortlisted tenders. A decision on the preferred tenderer to supply the Phase 3 capability will be presented to the government for consideration in 2022.