Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has officially opened Rheinmetall’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, Queensland, the company announced on 13 October.
The ceremony marks the establishment of a new national sovereign military vehicle capability that enables design, development and local manufacture of military vehicles, platforms and turrets for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and export to like-minded nations.
MILVEHCOE is an 11ha precinct incorporating a regional headquarters for Rheinmetall and a major manufacturing hub that will deliver vehicles into the ADF, including the BOXER 8x8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle for the Land 400 Phase 2 project and high-mobility logistics trucks under the Land 121 Phase 3B/5B programme.
Rheinmetall AG Chief Executive Armin Papperger said the MILVEHCOE heralded a new era in Australian manufacturing, as the company transferred technology and systems from Germany to establish a global hub for the continuous design, manufacture, export and support for military vehicles, platforms and turrets. He added that MILVEHCOE’s export focus would also drive the sustainable growth of a military vehicle industry in Australia that would draw on an expanding supply network across the nation to deliver products and services from local industry into Rheinmetall’s global supply chain. “This state of the art MILVEHCOE establishes a leading edge military vehicle capability that will build on the strong partnership between Rheinmetall and the ADF […] Moreover, it will enable Australian-developed technology and systems to be exported to the world and opens the way for Australian companies to deliver into our programmes for current and future nations, including NATO members such as Germany and Hungary,” he stated.
The MILVEHCOE precinct includes:
- Engineering and manufacturing for vehicles, turrets, weapons, armour, electronics and electro-optics and simulators;
- A vehicle test track and electromagnetic test chamber – used to confirm that vehicles meet the agreed performance specifications prior to delivery to the Australian Army;
- A fully-enclosed, state of the art indoor firing range;
- A systems integration laboratory – used to integrate and optimise performance of Australian Army systems and equipment into the vehicles; and
- Facilities for engineering, training, procurement, project management, finance, legal, marketing and management.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart said MILVEHCOE would transform the company’s ability to deliver for the ADF and Rheinmetall customers globally. “This facility has dramatically advanced our business in Australia and the way we engage with the Australian Defence Force and industry […] Once fully operational, it will enable the manufacture and sustainment of the Australian Army vehicle fleet of BOXER vehicles and provide a sovereign facility where Defence, industry and research organisations can innovate and collaborate on the Australian BOXER and other defence programmes.”
Rheinmetall is establishing an advanced manufacturing workforce of more than 450 employees within the MILVEHCOE precinct, including highly skilled and qualified workers across a range of specialist disciplines. “We are hiring welders, vehicle mechanics, systems and integration engineers, electro-optics technicians, software coders and developers and other specialisations […] Rheinmetall continues to invest in people, technology, infrastructure, programme management, supporting functions and industry networks so we can deliver some of the most complex and advanced programmes in the world and meet the demands of customers for military vehicles, electronic systems, simulation, training and support.”
These programmes will see the design, development, manufacture and sustainment of world-class military vehicles and a focus on research and development of vehicle technologies, including autonomous systems and new civilian vehicle capabilities.
Rheinmetall is currently delivering 211 BOXERs to the Australian Army – a vehicle whose key purpose is to find the enemy; to identify them and choose how and when to engage. The company is also delivering more than 2,500 protected high mobility trucks to the Army and building on this logistics backbone for the ADF by supplying a further 1,000 trucks to the Commonwealth through the Land 121 Phase 3B/5B programme.
Rheinmetall has also offered the LYNX KF41 - a tracked, highly-protected Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) - to meet the stringent military requirements of the $15 billion (€9.15 billion) Land 400 Phase 3 programme. The Australian Army needs a new IFV for close combat - to close in and defeat an enemy in the most dangerous and lethal environments for Australian soldiers. “Design, development and manufacture of the vehicle in Australia for the ADF will also build on the advanced manufacturing jobs at the MILVEHCOE, as well as a strong industrial network of SMEs across Australia,” Stewart added.