Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy have announced a major milestone for the AU$7 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 contract with Hanwha Defense Australia.
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Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy, on behalf of the Albanese government, had signed the contracts with Hanwha Defense Australia to deliver and support 129 locally built Redback infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army.
Worth a total of approximately AU$7 billion, the LAND 400 Phase 3 program represents the single largest investment in the Australian Army to date, with the combined value of the acquisition and initial support contracts worth approximately AU$4.5 billion.
The Redback infantry fighting vehicles will be built at Hanwha Defense Australia’s state-of-the-art facility in Avalon, Greater Geelong, Victoria, delivering hundreds of jobs to the local community, with independent analysis forecasts that at the peak of its build, this project is expected to support approximately 2,100 jobs inclusive of 1,800 direct jobs.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said, “This is an important project for the Australian Army that will be delivered by highly skilled workers in Greater Geelong and other centres of Australian manufacturing.”
As announced in July, the Albanese government is accelerating the delivery of the Redback infantry fighting vehicles, with the first vehicle to be delivered in 2027. This accelerated timeline is two years earlier than the former government planned, with the final vehicle set to be delivered in late 2028.
“This is a significant investment that will properly equip the Army so it can keep Australians safe. This is another part of our plan for a future built in Australia,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.
The acquisition of these infantry fighting vehicles is part of the government’s drive to modernise the Australian Army to ensure it can respond to the most demanding land challenges in our region.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy expanded on the comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, saying, “The Albanese government is committed to investing in Australian defence industry so we can make the critical defence equipment we need in this country and develop our sovereign capability.”
The infantry fighting vehicles will be delivered around the same time as the new HIMARS missile systems and Army landing craft – reflecting the Defence Strategic Review’s call for Army to be transformed for littoral manoeuvre operations in Australia.
The new fleet of infantry fighting vehicles will be operated by the 3rd Armoured Combat Brigade in Townsville.
“This investment demonstrates government’s commitment to delivering on the Defence Strategic Review, transforming our Army through the delivery of landing craft, long-range fires, and the Redback infantry fighting vehicles,” Minister Conroy said.
The project will provide a significant economic boost to Australian defence industry and manufacturing capabilities, with over 90 Australian companies expected to contribute to the Redback’s local build.
Hanwha’s Redback is a next-generation IFV developed specifically for the Australian Infantryman with advantages literally built into it from the ground up.
Equipped with advanced situational awareness systems normally found on jet fighters such as see-through vision and helmet slaved systems, the Redback rides on rubber tracks that reduce noise and vibration while offering superior ride quality for its crew and the soldiers it protects.
The vehicle boasts an advanced layered protection system including Elbit’s active protection system, Plasan’s world-class armour, and a structure designed to protect occupants from the effects of blast. All this is supported by an independent suspension system which does not use torsion bars, thus supplying more space for innovative blast mitigation systems which remove the dependence on old-fashioned suspended footrests and other design constraints.
Redback’s main armament is an Mk44S Bushmaster II 30mm cannon capable of firing all natures of 30mm x 173mm ammunition in service with 19 nations, including the US, the UK, and other allies and NATO forces.
The cannon fires ammunition from numerous providers, including advanced munitions such as proximity-fused rounds. Every cannon is fitted with a fuse setter for programmable rounds such as programmable air burst munition and proximity-fused rounds. It can also be rapidly upgraded to the 40mm Supershot by exchanging three parts, giving increased lethality without the need to modify the turret or cannon.
The Redback is also armed with a 7.62mm co-axially mounted machine gun and Electro Optic Systems’ remote weapons station can be fitted with a range of weapons including a 7.62mm machine gun, a .50 calibre machine, and an automatic grenade launcher.
The company has focused their integration efforts on improving interoperability between high-tech components while maximising protection, utility, and vision for the crew.
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by Hanwha in 2021, the company’s LAND 400 Phase 3 Australian industry capability package will generate $9 billion in total economic impacts across Australia with $5.7 billion generated in Victoria.