The Commonwealth has short-listed two vehicles for the next phase of the Project LAND 400 Phase 3 requirement for a next generation infantry fighting vehicle replacement for the Australian Army’s ageing M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers.
The two vehicles shortlisted are the Korean Hanwha Redback, and the German Rheinmetall Lynx KF41. The vehicles will now proceed to a risk mitigation activity (RMA) which is a comprehensive series of trials from which the winner will be selected in 2022.
LAND 400 Phase 3 is worth $10-15 billion over the period 2019-2032 – the largest ever investment in new Army capability. Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds said the Morrison Government was investing in the best possible capability to meet the current and emerging threats of our changing geostrategic environment.
She said these advanced vehicles would provide new levels of troop protection, firepower, mobility and enhanced communications. “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 Program will allow Army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats, as part of an integrated Australian Defence Force.
“I thank all tenderers for their significant effort and the resources invested in supporting Phase 3 of this project.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the LAND 400 Phase 3 program provided an exciting opportunity for Australian industry to contribute to building and maintaining these new Infantry Fighting Vehicles. “Just as with the Phase 2 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Australian industry involvement and Australian workers are vital to this project,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Price said if at any stage of this process there was a need, Defence reserved the right to invite other tenderers to join the shortlist to ensure Army acquired the capability it needed and the Australian taxpayer the best value.
The RMA will start later this year and following completion, Defence will undertake a final detailed evaluation of the contenders. This will follow the same procedures as was adopted with the LAND 400 Phase 2 contest to select a new armed reconnaissance vehicle, for which Rheinmetall’s Boxer 8×8 was selected.
Shortlisted contenders will be funded to provide three vehicles for the trials, which culminate with one of each of the vehicles are destroyed to assess their survivability.
The shortlist decision excluded two others, the General Dynamics Land Systems’ Ajax IFV, and BAE Systems’ CV90. Both are mature designs. Ajax is now entering service with the British Army while the CV90 is in service with a number of armies in Europe.
Redback and Lynx are new designs developed to meet the particular requirements of Land 400 Phase 3. Both are tracked vehicles designed to provide high levels of protection for their crews and dismount troops, with the ability to fully network with each other and other Army platforms and systems.
Lynx has substantial commonality with the Boxer and mounts the same 30mm gun system. Redback is a derivative of the K21 IFV, fielded in 2009 with more than 400 in service with the Republic of Korea Army. The Redback gun is a Bushmaster MK44S in 30 or 40mm with an option to go up to 50mm
The Commonwealth has also specified other capabilities for either vehicle – Harris radios, an Australian Electro Optics Systems (EOS) remote weapon system, and the Israeli Rafael Spike LR2 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) which will also be employed on Boxer.
The new IFV will replace the elderly but upgraded M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers. The M113 is a versatile and reliable vehicle which carried Diggers into battle in Vietnam, but its slab aluminium sides made an inviting target for enemy soldiers with rocket propelled grenades (RPG) and its flat bottom is vulnerable to landmines.
Despite an extensive upgrade at a cost of around $1 billion, the Australian Army’s current M113AS4 vehicles just weren’t up to the kind of threats likely to be encountered in all but low threat peacekeeping operations.
Defence is seeking to acquire a total of 400 vehicles, the majority in IFV configuration but with a range of other variants for command and control, engineers, ambulance, recovery and manoeuvre support vehicles.
Both contenders plan to build in Australia, Rheinmetall at its new military vehicle centre of excellence (MIVECOE) at Ipswich in Queensland which is building the Boxer 8×8, and Hanwha at a new site near Geelong in Victoria where it will also build new K9 self-propelled guns.