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Top 5 – Defence Connect’s best Land & Amphibious stories

2020 was a big year for Defence and defence industry, with major projects kicking off across the three branches. In this top five, we will cover the most popular Land domain stories of the year.

2020 was a big year for Defence and defence industry, with major projects kicking off across the three branches. In this top five, we will cover the most popular Land domain stories of the year.

While much of the attention on both the Navy and Air Force was due to the arrival of a growing number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, progress on the SEA 1000 Attack Class submarines and SEA 5000 Hunter Class frigates – Army has operated largely under the radar, despite major modernisation updates. 

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2020 has seen a resurgence of focus on Army's increasing number of modernisation and capability enhancements – with progress made on the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 and the $10-15 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 programs.

The Army has also seen progress made on the LAND 19 Short Range Ground Base Air Defence and LAND 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter replacement and the LAND 8116 Protected Mobile Fires self-propelled artillery gun programs, and the federal government used the 202 Defence Strategic Update and supporting Force Structure Plan to support the development and lethality of the Australian Army.

1. Rheinmetall reveals first KF41 Lynx IFVs for LAND 400 Phase 3

Rheinmetall has officially unveiled the first of three Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles designed, developed and manufactured for the Commonwealth of Australia’s $18.1 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 program.

Lynx is a next-generation tracked, digitised and highly protected infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) built to meet the stringent military requirements of LAND 400 Phase 3.

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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 is delivering each of the Lynx vehicles to compete in the test and evaluation trials as part of the risk mitigation activity (RMA) to be conducted around Australia over a 12-month time frame from November 2020.

If successful, the Lynx fleet will be manufactured in Queensland at Rheinmetall’s new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) at Redbank south-west of Brisbane.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said, “Rheinmetall looks forward to demonstrating the capability of this next-generation infantry fighting vehicle. We believe Lynx is the best vehicle in its class and sets a new standard in protection and the lethality needed to survive and defeat any adversary.”

The RMA trials will incorporate a range of tests including lethality, mobility and protection. The vehicle unveiled will be the focus of blast testing at a dedicated Commonwealth facility in coming months. Lynx was unveiled at a closed ceremony with selected Australian industry partners at the MILVEHCOE.

Lynx has been selected by the Hungarian Armed Forces for the delivery of more than 200 vehicles in the first launch order for the vehicle globally.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia will export turrets to the value of $150 million manufactured by Australians – and will soon announce further export orders into the Hungarian program, including orders for Australian SMEs.

Rheinmetall is also delivering 211 8x8 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) to the Australian Army after the vehicle was selected by the Commonwealth after 12 months of RMA trials by Australian Defence Force personnel in 2016-17.

LAND 400 Phase 3 is a multibillion-dollar Army program, which will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked IFV and tracked APC.

2. Full-rate production milestone for next-gen Army vehicle

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have confirmed that the Australian Army’s new Australian-designed and built Hawkei protected vehicle is ready to enter full-rate production at Thales’ Protected Vehicles facility in Bendigo, Victoria.

The vehicle’s production will support more than 200 local jobs in Bendigo as Victoria deals with the current outbreak of COVID-19, as well as more across the national defence industry.

Under project LAND 121 Phase 4, 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and 1,058 associated trailers will be delivered, with the full rate production vehicles expected to commence delivery from mid-2021.

"The Hawkei is a significant enhancement to existing land capability that will provide superior mobility, survivability and communications, while protecting the lives of our soldiers when operating in increasingly lethal and complex environments," Minister Reynolds explained. 

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the project demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to maximising opportunities for Australian defence industry. 

"The manufacture and ongoing support of the Hawkei vehicle creates significant long-term opportunities for Australian industry, including potential export opportunities, as we have seen with the Bushmaster vehicles," Minister Price said. 

Eighteen of Thales’ key 25 suppliers are based in Victoria, including:

  • Albins Performance Transmissions, based in Ballarat, for the vehicle cross drive, steering rack, castings and shafts;
  • Flexible Drive Agencies, based in Oakleigh, for the wiper and gear selector assembly;
  • Thomas Warburton, based in Dandenong South, for fasteners and hardware; and
  • Gough Transport Solutions, based in Noble Park, for the pneumatic system.

Defence plans to fit a quantity of the Hawkei protected mobility vehicles with the Electro Optic Systems Remote Weapon Stations.

Minister Price added, "This government is investing in the skills and knowledge base of Australia’s defence industry and delivering an internationally competitive and sustainable sovereign defence industry.

Manufacturing Hawkei has continued Thales Australia’s long-term relationships with its extensive domestic supply chain, building Australia’s self-reliance and the capability of the broader Australian manufacturing sector.

3. Rheinmetall secures launch customer for KF-41 Lynx IFV

LAND 400 Phase 3 contender Rheinmetall has secured a launch customer for the KF-41 Lynx IFV, establishing a joint venture with Hungary worth in excess of €2 billion ($3.3 billion) to support the modernisation of the nation’s military and defence industrial base.

Hungary is the first NATO and EU member state to choose the Düsseldorf-based group’s innovative new IFV. The step is of central importance in Hungary’s ongoing program of military and industrial development, which aims to transform the Hungarian Army as quickly as possible into a world-class fighting force capable of actively addressing security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic region.

With the signing of an agreement in Unterlüss on 17 August 2020, the government of Hungary has embarked on a massive program worth over €2 billion to modernise the country’s defence industry and military capabilities.

The move was announced by Hungary’s Secretariat of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the Commissioner for Defence Development.

Rheinmetall, Europe’s foremost maker of army equipment, will be co-operating with Hungary to create a joint venture and production facility in Hungary to manufacture the most modern Lynx infantry fighting vehicle.

LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15 billion Army program which will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) force with a combination of a tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and tracked APC.

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.

The risk mitigation activity will commence later this year. Following its completion, Defence will undertake a final detailed evaluation of the shortlisted tenders.

A decision on the preferred tenderer to supply the Phase 3 capability will be presented to government for consideration in 2022.

4. Raytheon Australia announces team of Aussie SMEs for LAND 129 bid

Raytheon Australia has announced its team of 10 Australian SMEs to deliver a fully sovereign Australian industry capability to the Army if it is selected to deliver the LAND 129 Phase 3 tactical unmanned aerial system project.

Raytheon Australia’s fully integrated and low-risk solution features an operationally superior rotary wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) that is optimised for future growth as part of the company’s LAND 129 Phase 3 offering. 

The company’s 20-year pedigree as a trusted and prime systems integrator, along with a team of SMEs including Schiebel Pacific Ltd and their world-leading CAMCOPTER S-100 UAS, will create a sovereign and sustainable UAS industry to support the Australian Defence Force now and into the future.  

Michael Ward, managing director of Raytheon Australia, said this team gives expression to Raytheon Australia’s commitment to fulfil the requirements of LAND 129 Phase 3 in a way that will build a genuine sovereign industrial capability. 

The team, which would be led by Raytheon Australia, includes the following companies:

  • Schiebel Pacific Ltd, Nowra
  • Air Affairs Australia, Nowra
  • Innovation Composites, Nowra
  • MMC Learning and Development Pty Ltd, Sydney
  • Calytrix, Perth
  • Penten, Canberra
  • Varley, Newcastle
  • Sentient Vision, Melbourne
  • Rojone, Sydney
  • Thomas Global, Sydney

As part of its efforts to expand its TUAS capabilities, Defence is looking for the new capability to include more advanced modular payloads, encrypted communications, a reduced equipment footprint, runway independent operations, quieter operations, operations in more classes of airspace (apart from military restricted airspace), increased environmental operating envelope and increased connectivity and networking in the battlespace.

5. Government announces request for tender for Army Protected Mobile Fires

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the request for tender to locally-build 30 self-propelled howitzers as part of the Protected Mobile Fires project.

The 'K9 Thunder' SPH will provide significant capability enhancement for the Australian Army. As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the K9 Thunder, Hanwha is ready to build and assemble 30 K9 Thunder SPHs and supporting systems in Australia.

The request for tender will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defence Australia, to build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and their supporting systems.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said it marks a key step in progressing the project that was a key election commitment. 

"Through this project, this government is delivering the capability Army needs while creating local jobs in and around Geelong that will grow our highly skilled workforce. The acquisition of this capability will provide the ADF with the mobility, lethality and protection required to support Joint Force operations in the land domain," Minister Reynolds explained. 

Hanwha Defence Australia will plan to establish an integrated, advanced manufacturing and sustainment facility similar to the facility already slated for production of the Redback IFV (should it be selected for LAND 400 Phase 3).

This builds on a proposal presented to the Australian Army in late-2018 for the provision of 30 K9 Thunder SPHs and 15 K10 ammunition resupply vehicles, which served as the catalyst for this government announcement and will be the basis moving forward directly with the Commonwealth as an Australian prime.

Hanwha has already been engaged for a considerable period with Australian defence industry, especially in the Greater Geelong region, to ensure that LAND 8116 creates an enduring and self-reliant industrial base by which the Commonwealth can sustain, develop and grow an indigenous capability for the self-propelled and joint fires capability in Australia.

LAND 8116 Phase 2, announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, is anticipated to commence in the late 2020s, delivering additional Protected Mobile Fires capability, and LAND 8116 Phase 3 is anticipated to commence in the mid-2030s, delivering a mid-life upgrade that will provide an opportunity to incorporate emerging technologies.

For the Land 8116 program Hanwha has developed the Huntsman Family of Vehicles comprising the K9 SelfPropelled Howitzer (SPH) and the K10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle (AARV) to deliver a complete mission system. These will be designated as the AS9 SPH and the AS10 AARV respectively for the Australian market.

The Huntsman SPH is a 50-tonne, 52 calibre, 155mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of four or five depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems.

The Kongsberg ODIN Fire Control System which sits within the broader Kongsberg Integrated Combat System allows passage of information to the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) forming the core of the C4I system. The AS10 AARV is a largely robotised system built on the same chassis as the K9.

It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is used to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the Artillery unit.

Top 5 – Defence Connect’s best Land & Amphibious stories
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