GPC Electronics, Air Affairs and Century Manufacturing have secured major subcontract roles to support the inclusion of the Tactical Edge Server (TES) into the Australian Army’s 211 Rheinmetall Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV).
The TES forms part of a scalable deployable computer architecture, which has been incorporated into in a range of man-portable, deployable and vehicle mounted solutions, including the Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle.
This makes the TES ideally suited to withstand the remote, demanding and hostile environment and combat conditions to be encountered by each Boxer 8x8 CRV.
The selection of Boeing’s TES for inclusion in 211 CRVs to be built in south-east Queensland under LAND 400 Phase 2 has brought with it exceptional growth opportunities for several Australian small to medium enterprises (SME).
GPC Electronics, Air Affairs and Century Manufacturing are among the suppliers that will provide the processing and storage components for the Boeing TES – a ruggedised, high-performance computing and network device to be incorporated into the combat vehicles.
Air Affairs and Century Manufacturing currently manufacture hardware and GPC Electronics provides electronic circuit cards for the TESs designed and built as part of Boeing’s LAND 2072 Phase 2B Project Currawong battlespace communication system, which will be incorporated into Rheinmetall’s Boxer 8x8 CRV.
“Our Australian SME supply chain’s capability, quality, and attention to detail is matched by their willingness to continue to innovate,” said Boeing Defence Australia’s vice president and managing director, Scott Carpendale.
Rheinmetall’s general manager – L400 Phase 3/head of marketing and strategy, Lee Davis, said, “Incorporating the TES into the Boxer 8x8 CRV provides the Commonwealth with a common, highly capable device that can be used across multiple programs. We were made aware of this through shared knowledge across our network of people. All components are designed, developed and manufactured in Australia and this is testament to the new opportunities for SMEs to grow into the expanding Defence market.
"Further demonstrating commonality and scalability we have also integrated the TES into our LYNX KF-41 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which shares a common architecture with what we are developing under the Boxer program. Our LAND 400 Phase 3 vehicles will include this leading-edge Australian capability."
Using components that are locally designed, produced and maintained also means that equipment servicing can be managed through a local supply chain. This supports a truly sovereign technology and support solution and complete surety of supply that would otherwise be impacted if components were produced offshore.
SME opportunities are not limited to Australian Defence Force contracts. Both Boeing and Rheinmetall are exploring export opportunities for their Currawong and Boxer programs.
The $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 program will have Rheinmetall deliver 211 8x8 Boxer CRVs to the Australian Army.
Under the company's offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company's specialised Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Queensland.
The first 25 vehicles will be built in Germany as part of the technology transfer process, with the remaining vehicles to be built in Australia. The Army will accept 133 reconnaissance variants of the Boxer, which will be equipped with Rheinmetall’s cutting-edge Lance 30mm automatic cannon turret system, among a number of other variants.
The Boxer CRV will support Australian industry, sourcing specialised armoured steel from Australian steel companies BlueScope Steel and Bisalloy, with engineering support provided by Melbourne-based Supacat Asia-Pacific.
LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15 billion Army program that will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier force, with a combination of a tracked IFV and tracked APC.
There are currently two main industry contenders who have progressed through to the next stage of he process:
- Hanwha Defense Systems AS21 Redback: The AS21 will include the capability to integrate active protection systems into an evolved turret system, the Redback will, like its BAE competitor, be capable of hosting a crew of 11 (three crew, eight troops), a top road speed of 70km/h, cross country speed of 40km/h, an operational range of 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of a 40mm autocannon and a single 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
- Rheinmetal Lynx KF-41: The Lynx KF41 will include the capability to support a crew of 12 (three crew, up to nine troops), have a max road speed of 70km/h, a road range of more than 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of the Lance 2.0 30-35mm autocannon, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a variety of additional close in weapons systems.