CANBERRA: South Korea’s defence contractor, Hanwha, has been selected to supply new armoured vehicles to Australia to replace the Army’s ageing fleet of Vietnam War era combat vehicles. Hanwha beat Germany’s Rheinmetall to be named the preferred bidder.
“The government has selected Hanwha Defense Australia as the preferred tenderer to deliver 129 infantry fighting vehicles to the Australian Army, as part of a major transformation of the Army in response to Australia’s changing strategic environment,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy. The Government has also decided that the new vehicles will be built in Australia at Hanwha’s facilities in the Geelong region.
He said building the vehicles locally will support thousands of high-skilled jobs, provide a significant economic boost to around 100 Australian defence industry companies and support Australia’s strategic imperative to develop sovereign defence manufacturing capabilities
The LAND 400 Phase 3 project will have a value of between $5 billion and $7 billion, making it one of the largest capability acquisition projects in the history of the Army.
The project will deliver Hanwha’s state of the art Redback infantry fighting vehicles that will provide high level protection and mobility for soldiers. The new vehicles will replace Defence’s M113 armoured personnel carriers which were acquired in 1964.
“The Government is accelerating this acquisition so that the first vehicle will be delivered in early 2027, two years earlier than the former Government had planned. The final vehicle will be delivered by late 2028,” the statement by the Australian Department of Defence said.
With its latest generation armour, cannon and missiles, the Redback vehicle will provide the protection, mobility and firepower required to transport and protect soldiers in close combat, giving them the highest chance of achieving their mission and returning home safely.
The acquisition of these infantry fighting vehicles is part of the Government’s drive to modernise the Australian Army to ensure it can respond to the most demanding land challenges in our region.
Significantly, the infantry fighting vehicles will be delivered at around the same time as the new HIMARS missile systems and Army Landing Craft – reflecting the Defence Strategic Review’s call for Army to be transformed for littoral manoeuvre operations from Australia. The acquisition also reflects the Defence Strategic Review’s assessment that 129 infantry fighting vehicles is the appropriate number for Australia’s future strategic environment.
This decision demonstrates how the Albanese Government is providing the Australian Defence Force with the capabilities it needs to defend Australia and protect our national security. Defence will now enter negotiations with the preferred tenderer and return to Government for final approval before the contract is finalised, Minister Conroy said in a July 27 statement.
“I would like to thank both Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia for their highly professional participation in the extensive and thorough process of selecting Australia’s new infantry fighting vehicle,” he said.
AS21 Redback IFV provides superior mobility and complete protection against ballistic, mine and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats. It is an advanced version of the K21 IFV, which is in service with the South Korean Army (ROK Army). The Redback, named for a spider native to Australia, was developed by Hanwha to Australia’s military requirements.
The 42t vehicle with a crew of three can transport up to 8 soldiers and reach a speed of 65 km/h and a range of 520 km. The turret will be armed with a Bushmaster MK44S 30mm cannon, a MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 76mm multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers and two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers. It can be fitted with EOS R400S Mk2 HD or R150 remote weapon system and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. Hanwha is building a plant in Geelong in the south eastern state of Victoria to produce the K9 self-propelled howitzer, and plans to manufacture the IFV at the same factory. –dod/adj/mgm (Pix: Australian Army)