Land Forces 2022 – introducing our new editorial series

Today @AuManufacturing launches its special editorial series Land Forces 2022 with a major interview with Defence Industry Minister, Pat Conroy. Here Peter Roberts surveys the lay of the Australian land.

As delegates gather in Brisbane this week for Land forces 2022, the top of mind issue for Defence and defence industry is the conflict in Ukraine, and its lessons for the future of the Australian Defence Force.

With an apparently well armed Army, and massive firepower at its disposal, Russia has been unable to make headway against a much smaller force from one of the poorest countries in Europe due to deficiencies in equipment, training, leadership, logistics, tactics and morale.

In an interview with @AuManufacturing, published here today, Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy signaled that one result would be a step change in the pace of defence procurement, which will draw on the defence strategic review now underway.

Conroy told @AuManufacturing: “The conflict in Ukraine has taught us that, one, local supply chains are very fragile.

“Secondly, if you look at Ukraine and you look at usage, they went through missiles, artillery, ammunition and small arms ammunition (at a rapid rate) and you look at the fact we don’t have a ten year warning time any more.

“We can’t just have the bare bones stock. We need to think about how do we generate wartime levels of stock. Some of that may be increasing inventory and some may be about developing sovereign manufacturing capability.”

To this end Conroy defined his job not just an an industry minister, but principally as defence materiel minister.

“People assume your job is to maximise local industry content, and that is important but it is not my highest priority.

“That is to ensure that the defence materiel that the ADF needs gets to the service on schedule, on budget and with the capabilities it was contracted for. Everything else has to flow from that.”

Land Forces, running from four to six October at the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre in Brisbane, comes as Defence is in the midst of spending $290 billion on equipment, technology and sustainment over the next decade.

Here, 2022 is a big year for Army procurement, with the decision expected on whether it will acquire Rheinmetall’s Lynx or Hanwha’s Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) under Land 400 Phase 3, a programme worth $18-27 billion.

Already on Saturday in the lead up to Land Forces, Canberra signed a Lethality System Project (LAND 159) Tranche 1 contract with Queensland company NIOA to start acquiring and supplying the next generation of small arms.

The contract is part of a $500 million plus commitment to provide Australia’s soldiers, sailors and aviators with enhanced lethality weapon systems.

And this week it is widely believed the government will announce recipients of Land 125 phase 4 Land 125 Phase 4, delivering an integrated soldier system to the Australian Defence Force troops.

Key to the announcement will be Australian Industry Capability (AIC) requirements that require suppliers to seek out Australian solutions, boost local industry and lay the groundwork to grow domestic businesses.

Over the next two weeks @AuManufacturing will run opinion articles from sector experts as well as celebrating excellence in Australia’s defence industry, written from our unique perspective at the intersection of defence and our manufacturing community – through our sister organisation the Australian Manufacturing Forum Linkedin group

@AuManufacturing’s editorial series Land Forces 2022 would like to acknowledge the support of Thales Australia and BAE Systems Australia who have made this year’s coverage – which will run for the next two weeks – possible.

Thales Australia is a trusted defence prime contractor manufacturing munitions, weapons, optronics, protected vehicles, mission packages, and command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems.

It also supplies sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services.

The company develops and manufactures its own technologies in Australia including the highly regarded Bushmaster and Hawkeye protected mobility vehicles, directly employing 3,800 across 35 sites and supporting more than 1,841 Australian suppliers, mostly SMEs.

BAE Systems Australia is the largest defence contractor in Australia, with a long heritage of developing and manufacturing unique technologies and products in Australia.

It operates across defence from air and maritime sustainment to shipbuilding, producing a wide range of vehicles and optical and laser systems backed by unique to Australia technologies such as titanium machining and software systems for missile control and uncrewed system autonomy.

More reading:

@AuManufacturing’s special editorial series Land Forces 2022 is brought to you with the support of Thales Australia and BAE Systems Australia.

Picture: Defence Australia

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