Rheinmetall Defence Australia and Defence Science and Technology Group have signed a five-year strategic R&D alliance agreement to work collaboratively to develop autonomous vehicle systems for land warfare platforms in Australia.
The agreement builds on Rheinmetall’s longstanding relationship with DST in the area of simulation and augmented reality and will focus on the development of autonomous technology to support land-based platforms in the Australian Defence Force.
This will include research and development around capabilities to support the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle capability Rheinmetall is delivering to the ADF under the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 program.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said, "Rheinmetall has significant expertise across autonomous systems in both the commercial automotive and defence sectors and we look forward to working collaboratively with the high calibre team at DST to bring this capability to Australia and explore its potential for the ADF."
Stewart welcomed the new agreement as the first of a series of announcements focused on building the company’s research and development footprint in Australia and establishing a sovereign military vehicle capability in Australia.
Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo said, "The alliance with Rheinmetall marks DST’s 17th long-term, strategic partnering agreement with industry to deliver game-changing capabilities for Defence.
"Some of the cutting-edge technologies developed under the strategic alliance will support the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle fleet, which Army is acquiring from Rheinmetall," he said.
Rheinmetall’s capabilities in autonomous land platforms for defence include the Boxer JODAA operational and technology demonstrator, which has been built for the German Bundeswehr and tests a range of technical capabilities, from remote controlled driving supported by camera systems to autonomous operations, including the operation of unmanned aerial or ground vehicles.
"This is just one way Rheinmetall is building a sovereign military vehicle capability in Australia to support the ADF," Stewart explained.
The company has also invested $2.5 million in the development of a new ‘Accelerated Endurance Course’ at Linfox’s Australian Automotive Research Centre near Anglesea, Victoria.
"DST and Rheinmetall have collaborated over many years to research simulation and augmented reality. The five-year strategic alliance expands co-operation into new technology areas, including the development of autonomous vehicle systems," Minister Ciobo said.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia will deliver 211 Boxer 8x8 CRVs as part of the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 project. Australia's Boxer CRVs will be built in Queensland at a specialised Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Ipswich.
The German company is also presenting the Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle to the approximately $10-15 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 project, which will see the recapitalisation of the Vietnam-era M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier force, with an IFV and APC.