Defence has unveiled the two contenders for the Army’s Project LAND 400 Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) requirement.
The German Rheinmetall KF41 Lynx and Korea’s Hanwha AS21 Redback were displayed side-by-side in front of the defence headquarters in Canberra on March 12. Displayed with them was the vehicle to be replaced, an M113AS4 armoured personnel carrier – an enhanced development of the original M113 the Army acquired in the 1960s and which saw service in Vietnam.
Most immediately noticeable is the difference in size. Lynx and Redback each weigh in at more than 40 tonnes, and visibly tower over the 18 tonne M113AS4.
Where the M113 is fitted with a search light, Lynx and Redback are equipped with a full day and night sensors. Also fitted to the new vehicles are a battlefield networking active protection system, a 30mm gun, remote weapon stations (RWS), and Spike LR2 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).
Lynx and Redback were shortlisted for a comprehensive trials program, or risk mitigation activity (RMA) which is now under way. Under LAND 400 Phase 3, Defence plans to acquire around 450 modern IFVs to replace the M113 fleet.
Liberal Senator MAJGEN (Ret) Jim Molan said the display was to remind the Australian people that it was their money paying for these new vehicles. “The government has put $270bn into Defence over the next 10 years, and the cost of this program alone will be $18-27 billion, he said. “This is big money.”
Senator Molan the IFVs weren’t just a replacement for the M113s. “It does much more than the old M113,” he added. “It doesn’t just carry soldiers to the battlefield. It allows them to fight from the vehicle, through the vehicle, and outside the vehicle. This is a revolutionary capability.”
MAJGEN David Coghlan, Head of the Armoured Vehicle Division in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) declined to disclose how the two vehicles were performing in the RMA so far.
“What is characteristic of the process is both vehicles will break down and will be repaired,” he said. “What’s important is if the vehicle does break down, how does the company respond both from an engineering perspective, and culturally to fix the vehicle.”
The crucial element of RMA involving assessment of the vehicles’ survivability and capabilities to withstand blast and penetration is due to commence soon. “These activities include Australian soldiers participating in user evaluation and testing, with a particular focus on the armour, firepower and mobility of the platforms,” Senator Molan said.