South Korean-based Hanwha has welcomed the Commonwealth’s announcement of a new Protected Mobile Fires program to provide the Australian Army with a fleet of locally built and maintained self-propelled howitzers (SPH), which links into the company’s offering for LAND 400 Phase 3.
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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.
Hanwha Defence Australia looks forward to the responsibility of being the Australian prime contractor and OEM for the Protected Mobile Fires program and other major combat vehicle programs to support the Australian Army.
Hanwha's statement welcomed the bipartisan political support for the program, saying, "We are also pleased to note that this important national program has bipartisan political support. Hanwha Defence Australia is excited at the prospect of developing a significant, advanced manufacturing hub and centre of excellence to build and sustain tracked armoured vehicles in the greater Geelong region of Victoria, thus contributing to Australia’s defence self-reliance, manufacturing capacity and industrial skills base."
Hanwha Defence Australia has also designed the Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which is currently under competitive evaluation for the Army’s LAND 400 Phase 3 program. Redback is the newest IFV in the world, leveraging the latest technologies for mission effectiveness. There is also significant commonality between both the K9 Thunder and the Redback, including the powerful MTU 1000 hp engine, transmission and suspension system.
This provides significant cross-platform synergies and logistics efficiencies. Should Hanwha be successful in the evaluation process for these programs, both the K9 Thunder and the Redback will be built and maintained in Australia.
These strategic programs would enable the Hanwha Defence Australia business to manufacture advanced combat vehicles for both Australia's domestic and broader international markets.
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 - building 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 Defence Australia and our Australian industry team is rapidly growing its presence in Australia in support of the Protected Mobile Fires program and other major Australian Army combat vehicle projects," Hanwha's release added.