Rheinmetall may build 225 combat vehicles locally
More than 350 long-term jobs directly and potentially thousands of flow-on jobs would be created in Ipswich if Rheinmetall Defence Australia are successful in securing the $5 billion LAND 400 contract to build the Boxer CRV, with the company committed to build the vehicles in Ipswich.
In a briefing with local SMEs last month, Rheinmetall’s Australian Managing Director, Gary Stewart confirmed that Ipswich would be the place to build a military vehicle centre of excellence (MILVEHCOE) if the company is successful in winning the LAND 400 contract.
Rheinmetall are competing with BAE systems to be the preferred tenderer to build the combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) for the Australian Army at the MILVEHCOE, along with the new LYNX Infantry Fighting Vehicles and LANCE turrets to fulfil other global defence contracts.
Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli has asked the Federal Government to consider Ipswich’s ‘Defence city’ reputation when choosing a contractor. “We have a proud military heritage in Ipswich, with 7500 Defence force workers in the city,” Cr Antoniolli said.
“We have the largest Defence base here at Amberley, and that makes us a garrison city.”
Mr Stewart noted that there were several factors that made Ipswich a desirable location to engineer, produce and develop the CRVs for the Australian Defence Force.
“The fact [Ipswich has] the C-17 strategic air lift right there, it’s in the right location to be able to get this equipment where it needs to be quickly, so it makes sense in a lot of ways,” Mr Stewart said.
“Access to a skilled workforce, and to universities and schools, so that we can continue to grow the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians that will be designing this equipment into the future are also important. And we’ve got a state government and council willing to work with us in partnership to create and enduring military capability.
Queensland and Ipswich were identified as having the right balance of all those things.
While BAE Systems’ AMV35 has earned an outstanding combat reputation in Afghanistan, Rheinmetall argue that it’s BOXER CRV provides soldiers with the best protection and lethality as well as a modular design that would reduce life-cycle costs.
As part of their bids, both companies’ combat vehicles were put through their paces, with blast tests and vehicle transportation compatibility testing.
“We know we have high precision engineered German technology with a strong Australian industrial solution,” Mr Stewart said.
“We know that protection, lethality, mobility and modularity are things the Army needs, now they understand that capability.
While the CRV is designed solely for reconnaissance and surveillance on operations, Mr Stewart said it is almost certain to be caught in a serious fire fight and must be equipped for that role.
“It has to be able to fight, survive and win. That’s its mission,” he said. “It’s designed to operate for many days unsupported, hence a lot of the external stowage and other things that allow it to carry a lot of extra food, rations, ammunition and equipment, and it has an extensive range.”
Rheinmetall is currently the largest supplier of military vehicles to the ADF, delivering more than 2500 logistics trucks under the LAND 121 Phase 3B Program.
The Federal Government will award the contract early next year, with the lifespan of the contract set for approximately 30 years.