Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced a $31 million investment in the delivery of a new, three-storey Armoured Vehicle Simulation Centre in Townsville.
Townsville region businesses are set to play a major role in delivering the state-of-the-art facility, which is due to start this month and be finished in mid-2022.
Its construction workforce is expected to peak at about 110 people per day.
The facility will support the training of 3rd Brigade soldiers at Lavarack Barracks for the upgraded M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and incoming LAND 400 and LAND 8160 armoured vehicle capabilities.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price announced St Hilliers had been awarded the head contract to deliver the $31 million package as part of the $235 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program Stage 1 works.
“The construction at Townsville will benefit the North Queensland economy by providing local businesses and subcontractors the opportunity to be involved on the project. St Hilliers has pledged to source 98 per cent of the workforce from the local area, which is an excellent result for the local economy,” Minister Price said.
“The LAND 400 Phase 2 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles and the Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles will represent a generational leap in the Australian Army’s warfighting capability.”
The contract also includes a high voltage substation and preparatory works for subsequent stages of the program.
Other Stage 1 works, including those at Puckapunyal Military Area, Victoria, and Edinburgh Defence Precinct, South Australia, will be delivered under separate contracts.
Member for Herbert, and former Australian Army soldier, Phillip Thompson said the project would not only be a valuable asset for training available to Defence members at Lavarack Barracks, but would also be a significant boost to the local economy.
Mr Thompson said, “At the peak of the construction we are going to have 110 local people on site. That’s a lot of local jobs being supported, so I would encourage any businesses who could contribute to this project to put their hands up.”
Townsville-based senator Susan McDonald said she knew of many North Queensland businesses that had the expertise and capability to contribute to this project.
“The Morrison government has shown once again that it is committed to delivering the benefits of our investment in defence capability to regional communities here in North Queensland,” Ms McDonald said.
The Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program brings to life innovative adaptable facilities and infrastructure to support, sustain and train Army personnel on the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles capability being procured for the Australian Defence Force.
Existing facilities and infrastructure at multiple defence sites were originally designed to support the current fleet of armoured fighting vehicles in operation. The incoming vehicles are more advanced.
The new facilities at Puckapunyal Military Area, Lavarack Barracks and Edinburgh Defence Precinct will support the first stage of a broader facilities program as part of LAND 400, LAND 907 Phase 2 and LAND 8160 Phase 1.
The facilities have been designed flexibly to cater to the ambiguity of future vehicle requirements:
- LAND 400 – Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and manoeuvre support vehicles.
- LAND 907 Phase 2 – M1A2 main battle tank, M88A2 armoured recovery vehicle and tank supporting systems.
- LAND 8160 Phase 1 – Combat engineering vehicles and M88A2 recovery vehicles.
The phased acquisition of the fleet over the coming decades means that vehicle specifications may change. Therefore, the vehicle bays at each Defence site are modular construction so that modules can be added or removed according to need. Both the electrical and mechanical systems are also flexibly designed to change in size or location according to vehicle specifications.