12 December 2023

Commonwealth signs contract for Australian Army’s Hanwha AS21 Redback armoured vehicles

| Andrew McLaughlin
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The Hanwha Redback will be built at a new facility under construction at Avalon Airport near Geelong. Photo: ADF.

A contract to supply the Australian Army with 129 Australian-built armoured infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) has been signed between the Commonwealth and Hanwha Defence Australia.

The $7 billion contract will see the AS21 Redback IFVs delivered under Project LAND 400 Phase 3 from the Hanwha Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE) facility at Avalon Airport near Geelong – in the heart of Defence Minister Richard Marles’ federal seat of Corio – in 2027-28. When complete, the new facility will also build the Army’s new AS9/AS10 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) being acquired under Project LAND 8116 Phase 1.

READ ALSO Hanwha selected to deliver army’s new infantry fighting vehicles

Independent analysis forecasts that, at the peak of its build, the project will support approximately 2100 jobs.

The government has said it has accelerated the project by two years ahead of the previous government’s plans. But what it didn’t say is that the scale of the project was dramatically reduced in April’s Defence Strategic Review (DSR) from a planned 450 IFVs to just 129. Similarly, a second regiment of 45 SPHs was also cancelled in the DSR.

Richard Marles

Defence Minister Richard Marles at the contract announcement at Avalon. Photo: Hanwha.

The IFVs will replace the Vietnam-era M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in Army service. Despite receiving a substantial upgrade in the 1990s and early 2000s, the M113s are no longer considered survivable on a modern battlefield.

The new IFV differs in having more substantial armour protection, a V-shaped hull to deflect explosive charges from underneath such as mines and improvised explosive devices, more robust tracks and running gear, and advanced sensors and communications.

The IFV also weighs nearly three times as much as the M113, bringing a new focus on the importance of Army logistics and transport. Therefore, this and weight growth in other Army armoured vehicles has necessitated the acquisition of much larger and heavier landing craft under the Project LAND 8710 Phase 1A Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M) for which a design by Birdon Group and Incat Crowther was selected last month.

The government said the acquisition of the IFVs is part of its drive to modernise the Australian Army to ensure it can respond to the most demanding land challenges in our region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said the IFV 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.

“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,” he said.

Contract signature

Hanwha Defence Australia’s CEO Richard Cho and Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group’s Head of Armoured Vehicles Major General Jason Blain at the contract signing. Photo: CASG.

“The government is committed to investing in the Australian defence industry so we can make the critical defence equipment we need in this country and develop our sovereign capability,” Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said.

“This investment demonstrates the 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.”

Managing director of Hanwha Defence Australia Richard Cho said, “Less than six months after the preferred partner announcement, HDA and Commonwealth have worked hard to deliver a contract that will see this game-changing capability delivered to protect Australian soldiers.”

“We will be manufacturing all 129 vehicles at the H-ACE facility now under construction at Geelong,” he added. “Bringing back high technology vehicle manufacturing to the region is exciting not just for us but for the potential export base it provides to Australian companies.”

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.

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