Rheinmetall Defence Australia and Victoria's Heuch, which has been a supplier to the Australian Defence Force since shortly after its inception in 1970, will today announce the major export agreement.
Under the agreement with LAND 400 Phase 2 bidder Rheinmetall Defence Australia, family-owned Heuch will design, develop and manufacture 88 made-to-order mobile units that will increase the lifetime of batteries operating in each Boxer vehicle. The mobile unit is placed next to each stationary Boxer and delivers a charge to batteries ensuring it is immediately operational.
The technology, designed at the company’s Dandenong South operations, will also incorporate a dehumidifier that delivers dry air into the interior of the vehicle when it is stationary to eliminate corrosion and mould.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said Heuch's commitment to innovation, capability and high performance gave it the leading edge over other international suppliers.
"Heuch has demonstrated how Australian manufacturing capability can open up new and exciting opportunities for local SMEs in offshore markets under our global supply chain agreement," Stewart said.
"This comes at a critical time for many Australian companies seeking new markets and Rheinmetall’s worldwide leadership in the military vehicles sector will provide a new pathway to global markets."
Heuch managing director Steve Oakley said the company, which has 16 direct employees and counts the Royal Australian Air Force, Thales and the Defence Science and Technology Group as its customers, was pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with Rheinmetall and to achieve international recognition for a new product designed and developed in Victoria.
"The team at Heuch are very proud to have such a strong history meeting defence force requirements and this project is no exception," Oakley said.
"We heavily leverage our continuing R&D program and our association with Monash University and RMIT University to keep abreast of international trends and opportunities."
The export agreement will form part of the Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) Project in Lithuania, which will be delivered by ARTEC – a joint venture between Rheinmetall and KMW.
The Republic of Lithuania has signed a contract for the procurement of 88 Boxer vehicles in four Infantry Fighting Vehicle versions, called “VILKAS” within the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The Infantry Fighting Vehicles will be equipped with a remote controlled turret with a 30mm cannon and an anti-tank missile.
Rheinmetall is bidding its Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle in Australia through the LAND 400 Phase 2 program, and the vehicle is also being offered to the UK through the ARTEC joint venture bid for the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) program. The Boxer has also just been selected by the Republic of Slovenia for a new Central Battalion Battle Group.
This latest announcement between Rheinmetall and Heuch comes after West Melbourne’s Tectonica Australia landed an export agreement with Rheinmetall for its Australian-designed and developed local situational awareness system (LSAS), which acts as the eyes and ears for soldiers in combat to increase awareness and protection.
Rheinmetall is up against BAE Systems, which has offered the AMV-35 to be built in Victoria, for LAND 400 Phase 2.
Under the German company's bid for the project, which is worth up to $5 billion, 225 combat reconnaissance vehicles for the Australian Army will be built in Queensland if Rheinmetall is successful.
Along with Heuch and Tectonica Australia, Rheinmetall has partnered with several other Australian SMEs for the project, including Melbourne-based Cablex, Burnie-based Direct Edge, Brisbane-based G&O Kert, Melbourne/Brisbane-based Hilton Manufacturing, Perth-based Hoffman Engineering, Melbourne-based Nezkot Precision Tooling and Engineering, Adelaide-based Plasteel and Adelaide-based Redarc.
Rheinmetall has also partnered with BlueScope, which would see the Port Kembla steelworks company deliver thousands of tonnes of feedstock for the LAND 400 Phase 2 project.
The company has also committed to establishing a Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE), which will be the global manufacturing base for the Boxer CRV, the company’s new Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle and range of Lance turrets under its LAND 400 offering to Australia.
The government will make a decision on the LAND 400 Phase 2 project in the first half of this year, with the national security committee expected to make a decision on the project this month.