Rheinmetall has officially announced the opening of its Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, Queensland, establishing a national sovereign military vehicle capability that enables the design, development and local manufacture of military vehicles, platforms and turrets for the ADF and export opportunities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially opened the MILVEHCOE at a ceremony attended by a delegation of federal MPs and senators from across Queensland, representatives from Defence and Australian defence industry.
The MILVEHCOE is an 11-hectare precinct incorporating a regional headquarters for Rheinmetall and a major manufacturing hub that will deliver vehicles into the ADF, including Boxer 8x8 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) under Australia’s Project LAND 400 Phase 2 and high mobility logistics trucks under the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program.
Rheinmetall AG chief executive Armin Papperger said the MILVEHCOE heralded a new era in Australian manufacturing as the company transferred technology and systems from Germany to establish a global hub for the continuous design, manufacture, export and support for military vehicles, platforms and turrets.
Papperger said the MILVEHCOE’s export focus would also drive the sustainable growth of a military vehicle industry in Australia that would draw on an expanding supply network across the nation to deliver products and services from local industry into Rheinmetall’s global supply chain.
“This state-of-the-art MILVEHCOE establishes a leading-edge military vehicle capability that will build on the strong partnership between Rheinmetall and the ADF,” Papperger said.
Prime Minister Morrison reinforced Papperger's comments, saying, “This Queensland centre will be where some of the most advanced armoured vehicles in the world will be produced, by Australian workers. The MILVEHCOE will create more than 450 long-term jobs and become a national asset for military vehicles.”
Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s MILVEHCOE precinct includes:
- Engineering and manufacturing for vehicles, turrets, weapons, armour, electronics and electro-optics and simulators;
- A vehicle test track and electromagnetic test chamber – used to confirm that vehicles meet the agreed performance specifications prior to delivery to the Australian Army;
- An indoor firing range – a fully-enclosed, state-of-the-art firing range;
- A systems integration laboratory – used to integrate and optimise performance of Australian Army systems and equipment into the vehicles; and
- Facilities for engineering, training, procurement, project management, finance, legal, marketing and management.
Papperger added, “MILVEHCOE will enable Australian developed technology and systems to be exported to the world and opens the way for Australian companies to deliver into our programs for current and future nations including NATO members such as Germany and Hungary.”
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart reinforced the comments of Papperger, explaining the MILVEHCOE would transform the company’s ability to deliver for the ADF and Rheinmetall customers globally.
“This facility has dramatically advanced our business in Australia and the way we engage with the Australian Defence Force and industry,” Stewart said.
“Once fully operational, it will enable the manufacture and sustainment of the Australian Army vehicle fleet of BOXER vehicles and provide a sovereign facility where Defence, industry and research organisations can innovate and collaborate on the Australian Boxer and other defence programs.”
Rheinmetall is establishing an advanced manufacturing workforce of more than 450 employees within the MILVEHCOE precinct including highly skilled and qualified workers across a range of specialist disciplines.
“We are hiring welders, vehicle mechanics, systems and integration engineers, electro-optics technicians, software coders and developers and other specialisations,” Stewart said.
“Rheinmetall continues to invest in people, technology, infrastructure, program management, supporting functions and industry networks so we can deliver some of the most complex and advanced programs in the world and meet the demands of customers for military vehicles, electronic systems, simulation, training and support.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds welcomed the future capability that will be delivered to the Australian Army, explaining, “As outlined in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, the Boxer will provide enhanced mobility, firepower, protection and situational awareness to our troops.
“I join the Prime Minister in congratulating Rheinmetall Defence Australia on securing new export opportunities. A resilient and internationally competitive defence industry is essential to Australia’s national security.”
These programs will see the design, development, manufacture and sustainment of world-class military vehicles and a focus on research and development of vehicle technologies, including autonomous systems and new civilian vehicle capabilities.
Building on this announcement, Rheinmetall announced an export order in excess of $150 million dollars from Australia to the Hungarian Armed Forces to supply digital Lance turrets to be designed and manufactured at the MILVEHCOE in south-east Queensland.
The Prime Minister acknowledged this significant announcement at the official opening of the MILVEHCOE, before members of the Australian Defence Force, representatives of Queensland Defence industry community and Rheinmetall Defence Australia employees.
Last month, the Hungarian government announced it had entered into a joint venture for the delivery of 218 Lynx vehicles to the Hungarian Armed Forces under a greater than €2 billion agreement that will see the NATO and EU member become the first customer for Rheinmetall’s next-generation IFV.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price welcomed the opportunity and investment in sovereign industrial capability that Rheinmetall's MILVEHCOE facility would provide Australia, stating, “Australian industry will play a vital role delivering and sustaining key Australian defence capabilities at the facility.”
The program includes the digital Lance turret to enable the crew to access sensor systems, advanced automatic tracking and targeting capabilities and weapon-integrated battle management all in one connected and enabled platform.
“Rheinmetall will use suppliers across Australia to design, build, assemble, test and support the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles and training systems. The work at this facility is terrific news for Queensland workers and defence companies across the country,” Minister Price added.
Exports from Australia and Germany are a key part of the program as the Hungarian joint venture constructs local manufacturing operations during the first phase of production. This will see at least 30 of the first 46 digital Lance turrets supplied from Australia during Phase 1.
“We welcome this major export contract, and we look forward to the follow on turret and kit orders to be awarded by other European customers,” said Stewart.
The Hungarian export program will be expanded in the coming months to include a further 127 Lance turret kits from Rheinmetall Defence Australia, and Australian-designed and manufactured products supplied by local SMEs including automotive running gear from Adelaide’s Supashock, high capacity alternators from Albury’s Milspec Manufacturing and armour steel from Bisalloy in Wollongong.
“Design, development and manufacture of these systems will build on the advanced manufacturing jobs at our MILVEHCOE development, production and test facility in Queensland, as well as the strong industrial network of SMEs across Australia,” Stewart said
Prime Minister Morrison congratulated Rheinmetall Defence Australia on the export contract with Hungary, saying, “This is a significant export order, and a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to supporting Australian defence industry to achieve export success. We make things in Australia. We do it well. And this is an example of how we are continuing to make things in Australia.”
Rheinmetall is currently delivering 211 Boxer vehicles to the Australian Army under LAND 400 Phase 2. The Boxer’s key purpose is to find the enemy; to identify them and choose how and when to engage.
The company is also delivering more than 2,500 protected high mobility trucks to the Australian Army under the LAND 121 Phase 3B program and building on this logistics backbone for the ADF by supplying a further 1,000 trucks to the Commonwealth through the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program.
Rheinmetall has also offered the Lynx KF41 – a tracked, highly protected infantry fighting vehicle – to meet the stringent military requirements of the $15 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 program. The Australian Army needs a new IFV for close combat – to close in and defeat an enemy in the most dangerous and lethal environments for Australian soldiers.
Rheinmetall sets the global standard for excellence in a wide array of disciplines and offers an extensive array of military hardware that delivers mobility, lethality, survivability of troops, reconnaissance capability and networking of national and international systems.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia and New Zealand is a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG, with offices in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.