On Saturday, Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) and the Federal government signed the LAND 400 Phase 2 contract for an order of 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, marking the official start of the delivery process.
The contract was signed by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the managing director of RDA Gary Stewart in Canberra last Friday. The federal government has put the total acquisition cost of the vehicles at $5.2 billion.
Rheinmetall’s Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs) will replace the 20-year old ASLAVs (Australian Light Armoured Vehicles) currently in use by the (ADF), signalling a significant modernisation of Australia’s defence capabilities. Delivery of the new fleet will take place between 2019 and 2026.
Earlier this March, the government had announced its intention to make Rheinmetall the supplier of the CRVs. Already in service with – or being procured by – the armed forces of Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania, the Boxer CRV was selected following trials conducted by the ADF.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) is a subsidiary of German manufacturer Rheinmetall AG.
Armin Papperger, Rheinmetall’s chief executive said it was a great honour company to be chosen to provide the ADF with a new fleet of modern vehicles.
“This demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, the continued successful cooperation between Rheinmetall and the Government and Armed Forces of Australia,” Papperger said.
“As a company, we are extremely pleased to have secured one of the biggest orders in the recent history of Rheinmetall.”
The first 25 vehicles will be built in Rheinmetall’s German factory, with the rest to be manufactured in Queensland at the company’s future Australia-New Zealand headquarters, the Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence, which will be constructed at Redbank Industrial Estate near Ipswich.
The deal will see a high proportion of the industrial value added during production carried out by local industry, with over 40 Australian companies to be included in the programme.
Queensland’s manufacturing and infrastructure minister Cameron Dick said it would be most important defence manufacturing projects ever carried out in the state, which is to become the site of Rheinmetall’s largest presence outside of Germany.
“The partnership between the Queensland Government and Rheinmetall has resulted in these combat vehicles being built here in Queensland, delivering 450 direct advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs and $1 billion pumped into the state’s economy in the first 10 years alone,” Dick said.
“For businesses stretching from the Gold Coast to Cairns which are involved in the extensive supply chain, this contract will deliver hundreds of jobs, boost investment, drive high-tech innovation and create global export opportunities.”
In being awarded the contract, Rheinmetall beat rival BAE Systems Australia, which had proposed the Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV35), which, along with the Boxer CRV, had been selected in 2016 for Risk Mitigation Activity trials by the ADF.
Fitted with modern sensors and communications equipment, the Boxer vehicles will fill seven different roles on the battlefield, including reconnaissance, command and control, joint fires, surveillance, ambulance, battlefield repair and recovery.
The ADF will employ several variants of the Boxer, with the reconnaissance variant – accounting for 133 of the 211 vehicles – equipped with Rheinmetall’s cutting-edge LANCE turret system and armed with a 30 mm automatic cannon.
Ben Hudson, the head of Rheinmetall’s Vehicle Systems Division, said the Boxer model was the appropriate field-armoured fighting vehicle for a modernised ADF.
“The Boxer CRV is highly protected against both asymmetric threats that have been faced by Australian soldiers in recent operations, while also being highly protected against conventional battlefield threats that our soldiers may face one day in a conventional war-fighting scenario,” Hudson said.
“We look forward to building on our successful Land 121 program and extending the trustful partnership we have with the Australian Government and our Australian suppliers and partners into Land 400 to deliver an outstanding combat vehicle to the Australian Army.”