Infantry vehicle manufacturing to be scaled back ‘shortly’ – Conroy


The Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy will move ‘very shortly’ to action plans to cut back on Army purchases of infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) as foreshadowed in the government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review.

The review, which emphasised long-range strike capabilities and naval reform over the land army, called for the Land 400 phase 3 contract to be scaled back to 129 vehicles as opposed to 450.

This affects plans by the two bidders for the contract, Rheinmetall and Hanwha, to build IFV’s in Queensland and Victoria respectively.

Conroy said in a Friday doorstop interview: “That process is starting very shortly.

“This was an important recommendation from the Defence Strategic Review, which was the need to reshape the Australian Army.”

At a cost of between $18 billion and $27 billion the the Land 400 series of contracts were to have been the most expensive acquisition ever in the history of the army.

Conroy said Australia needed to focus on what he called its ‘littoral manoeuvre capability’, which is the ‘ability to move at the intersection between sea and land’.

“And unfortunately the DSR recommended, to free up the resources for that project, was to reduce the scope of Land 400 Phase 3 from 450 infantry fighting vehicles to 129.

“Still an incredibly important capability, providing protection to our soldiers, but using the resources freed up to invest in bringing forward and building more landing craft to actually transport our army assets around the region.

“And secondly, invest in long range strike. At the moment the Australian Army can only strike 40 kilometres away through its artillery by our rapid investment in long range strike and missile manufacture, they’ll be able to strike targets in excess of 500 kilometres.”

The bad news for Korean owned Hanwha Defense Australia is not the first time Australia has dashed Korean hopes of becoming a supplier to the Australian Defence Force.

Conroy said he had spoken to his Korean counterpart before the DSR was made public.

“That was a courtesy that we extended to both the Republic of Korea regarding the howitzers and Land 400 Phase 3, and also to the German government regarding Land 400.”

Hanwha is offering its Redback IFV while Rheinmetall is offering the Lynx. Rheinmetall is currently delivering 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles to the ADF.

Conroy said: “This is the only place in the world where that turret is manufactured.

“And we’re working very hard with Rheinmetall to land a very significant export deal, to export Australian made Boxers with a turret back to Germany.

“If we land that, that will be the biggest defence export deal in the history of the country. Long way to go. But negotiations have begun.”

Picture: Hanwha Defense Australia/Hanwha is offering its Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle to the Australian Army. The program will deliver up to 450 vehicles.

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