Raytheon Australia, Austal, and BMT have announced they have teamed to bid for the Australian Army’s Project LAND 8710 Phase 1A Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M) requirement.
Dubbed the Australian Independent Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel, or ILMV, the team says its solution is based on a proven design and has been tailored for the Australian environment. If selected, Raytheon Australia will lead the team to deliver the BMT-designed vessel, which will be built by Austal at the Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.
“Raytheon Australia knows how complex it is to bring a ship design to life – from training to operational testing and evaluation to sea trials and certifications,” Raytheon Australia managing director Michael Ward said in a release. “Our experience has taught us that this is a complex endeavour, requiring unique expertise that we have invested in developing over the past 22 years of delivering large-scale defence projects on time and to budget.
“From our work to deliver the Hobart class destroyers, and our current evergreening activities on the LAND 19 Phase 7B program, we have the relevant expertise, processes, tools, and capacity to bring this new class of ships to life for the Australian Army,” Ward added. “The Australian ILMV is a resilient and flexible vessel that meets Army’s requirements. It is robust and capable, and future ready with clear growth and upgrade opportunities to ensure our solution supports the Army in Motion as they respond to accelerated warfare.”
Austal Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg added, “As one of Australia’s largest shipbuilders with an acknowledged world class operation and decades of ADF experience, we have an existing workforce that is trusted to deliver on multiple programs from our Henderson shipyard. Our team has a successful track record in delivering ships every three months and this project will be key to providing a continuous ship building program and preserving local jobs in this vital sovereign industry.”
BMT Senior Business Development Manager, Trevor Dove said, “Our Australian ILMV is based on BMT’s existing landing craft hullform, a mature design in the running for LAND8710-1A. It is ready to be delivered, with growth margins for a future ready Army.”
The Army is seeking to replace two amphibious capabilities – the Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo 5 ton (LARC-V) through LAND 8710 Phase 1B, and the Landing Craft Mechanised-8 (LCM-8) through LAND 8710 Phase 1A.
An Invitation to Register (ITR) for LAND 8710 Phase 1 Capability Elements 1 and 2 (CE1 and CE2) covering the LCM-8 and LARC-V replacements respectively was released in late January 2021, with the ITR documents calling for, “…respondents to demonstrate their willingness, capacity, and capability to provide an AV (amphibious vehicle) with an Australian design and Australian build”.
Through most of 2021, LAND 8710 was known as the Army Littoral Manoeuvre – Light program, and retained the CE1 and CE2 sub-phases. But these designations were changed to Phases 1A and 1B in time for the December 2021 release of the tender documents. Phase 1B is now described as the Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Amphibious (LMV-A) requirement.
In the December 2021 RFT, the document says the LAND 8710 Phase 1A LMV-M “will provide independent shore-to-shore and ship-to-shore capability, to enable manoeuvre and sustainment of the amphibious Joint Force over extended ranges in restricted littoral and riverine environments. The new LMV-M fleet will be capable of carrying the Joint Force’s current and planned armoured and protected vehicles, as a combat laden mission system in high sea states.”
Interestingly, due to the LMV-M’s larger size compared the LCM-8, it is expected the new vessel will not be compatible with the dock of the Canberra class LHDs. Instead, the requirement says it will have an organic stern-marriage system that is compatible with the LHDs and the LSD, HMAS Choules.
The RFT for LAND 8710 Phase 1A is scheduled to close on 14 June 2022, evaluations of competing designs will take place in Q3 of 2022, and a contract award is expected in late 2023 or early 2024.
The Commonwealth anticipates an initial operational capability (IOC) of two vessels to be declared in 2026. Acquisition will be conducted in batches, with the final of 18 vessels being delivered and full operational capability (FOC) scheduled for 2032.