Finch, who has been appointed director, research and technology, in a newly created role after two years as Australian program director for Rheinmetall’s LAND 400 Phase 2 program, will help drive research and development activities across the company, including through the establishment of a Technology Centre for Light-weight Applications (TECLAB) in Melbourne, Victoria.
TECLAB will initially develop technologies to improve capability under land programs such as LAND 121 and LAND 400 and collaborate with research and technology stakeholders across the Australian R&D community, including CSIRO, Defence Science and Technology Group, the Australian university sector and state governments.
Once the LAND 400 Phase 2 contract is signed, Rheinmetall’s TECLAB will manage the company’s technology and product development fund to invest in targeted new technologies and products for the Australian and global markets, in turn generating advanced manufacturing jobs and enriching the Australian economy.
The initial areas of research include:
Lightweight high performance materials for automotive and military applications, in partnership with the CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology;
Advanced and hybrid manufacturing, in partnership with CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology;
Autonomous systems, in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology; and
Advanced sensing, in partnership with the University of South Australia.
The new TECLAB is a win for Victoria which was left disappointed after not securing the build of the Army's future Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles. At least 180 of the 211 vehicles will be built in Queensland, while the first batch will be built in Germany.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said the creation of an indigenous research and development capability is a fundamental part of the company’s focus for future capability enhancements for military vehicles, turrets and tactical systems.
"Our approach to establishing a new sovereign military vehicle industry in Australia incorporates a significant and staged investment in research and development," Stewart said.
"The technology fund with its research partnerships will create a clear pathway for science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates to enter an industry focused on military vehicles, turret systems and automotive technologies.
"This will support Rheinmetall’s stated objective to contribute directly to innovation, systems and ideas to be developed, prototyped and tested in the MILVEHCOE in Ipswich, Queensland."