Hanwha Defence Australia and the Commonwealth have announced that Avalon Airport just north of Geelong in Victoria will be the site for Hanwha’s new armoured vehicle manufacturing facility.
The 20-hectare site will be leased from airport owner Linfox, and will feature a 32,000 square metre production facility, a 1,500m test track with a deep-water test facility and obstacle course, and space for an expansion to multiple production lines and for industry partner facilities. Work on the facility will commence this year, and be completed in 2024.
The facility will be the manufacturing location of the Australian Army’s new AS9 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzer and AS10 ammunition supply vehicles being acquired under Project LAND 8116 Phase 1 and follow-on phases, and can be expanded for the production of more than 400 AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicles if Hanwha is successful in winning the Project LAND 400 Phase 3 competition currently in its final stages of assessment.
“The selection of this site in a strategic growth corridor of Victoria is a very significant step in further establishing Hanwha’s defence business in this country,” Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia, Mr Richard Cho said in a February 23 release. “We will build a modern facility here in Victoria to manufacture armoured vehicles and utilise the skilled and experienced workforce available to us in Geelong. Our facility will be a genuine centre of excellence, one that we can expand and adapt to fulfil different projects across different domains in the future.
“Hanwha Defense Australia is proud to be contracted by the Commonwealth to supply locally manufactured equipment to the Australian Defence Force,” Cho added. “Hanwha is grateful to the Victorian State Government for their assistance in setting up our home base in Victoria, and we also appreciate the City of Greater Geelong Council’s warm welcome of Hanwha into their community.
“With Australia’s close proximity to Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, I think it is likely Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become an important secondary line of supply back to South Korea. It may also help Hanwha fulfil contracts in other parts of the world.”
Hanwha says 10 potential sites were considered and three sites were shortlisted for the facility, the search for which was undertaken in consultation with project management consultancy Conscia, the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and Invest Victoria.
“Hanwha will draw on Greater Geelong’s highly skilled and experienced workforce to deliver this project,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said in a separate release. “About 100 jobs are expected to be created during the two-year, $170 million construction of the armoured vehicle centre of excellence. It is great news for the Geelong region economy that the $1 billion program will support at least 300 jobs during its lifespan.”
The new site will be Australia’s third armoured vehicle manufacturing facility, after the Thales Australia facility at Bendigo in Victoria which manufactures Bushmaster and Hawkei protected military vehicles (PMV), and Rheinmetall Australia’s military vehicle centre of excellence (MILVEHCOE) near Ipswich in Queensland.