The Australian government continues its modernization program with the acquisition of new armored personnel carriers to replace 431 M113AS4s currently in service. While Australia has already selected the German Boxer for the CRV program (Land 400 Phase 2), the next and third phase of the Land 400 program is expected to double the number of vehicles bought, providing major opportunities for the winner. Industry briefing sessions are scheduled for September of this year to inform industries that want to be involved in the project. The deadline for submissions is March 1st, 2019. The selection of the preferred tenderer is expected within three years.

The Request for Tender for LAND 400 Phase 3 – ‘Mounted Close Combat Capability’ eyes a procurement of a fleet of up to 450 modern Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles, at an estimated cost of $10-$15 billion. When fully delivered, the LAND 400 Program will allow the Army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats as part of a joint force.

The Australians did not specify whether the vehicle should be tracked or wheeled. Practically, Rheinmetall Defense has a major advantage in the ongoing infrastructure and teaming they established for the Boxer CRV. In fact, the company has developed a new vehicle platform – Lynx KF41 to address this opportunity, offering commonalities with existing systems and a modular approach that tailors the vehicle for different configurations. Its modular armor system offers protection levels equal or better to the Boxer.

Australian Army officer trainees travel in an M113AS4 armored personnel carrier during the Royal Military College training activity near Townsville, Queensland.  Photo: Australian Defence

The Australian Defense ministry is placing greater emphasis on a coordinated and programmatic approach to Army’s biggest project ever. A new Armoured Vehicle Division will be created to consolidate large programs like LAND 400, LAND 907 – Main Battle Tank Replacement and LAND 8160 – Enhanced Gap Crossing Capability into a programmatic ‘mega project’.

“This will be the largest investment in Army’s capability ever undertaken and will provide our troops with a modern close combat capability,” Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP said. The new vehicles will offer a high level of protection, firepower, and mobility. Minister Pyne added that as with the LAND 400 Phase 2 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Australian industry involvement, and Australian workers will be critically important. He indicated that during this tender process, Defence will work closely with industry to optimize Australian Industry Capability content.

These will replace the upgraded 431 M113 armored personnel carriers in service since the 1960s, and 17 maneuver support vehicles for the Australian Army’s combat brigades.

The current M113AS4 APC has inadequate mobility and protection. The new vehicle should markedly improve those capabilities, but, to fulfill its missions, firepower and mission systems could be less sophisticated than those selected for the Boxer CRV. Photo: Australian Defence

Project LAND 400 project is managing the delivery of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles for the Australian Army. Estimated by the Australian Government to have a total acquisition cost of between $14 and $20 billion, the project is expected to deliver 675 military vehicles over 15 years. Additionally, the vehicles will require maintenance and support for up to 30 years. LAND 400 is the biggest and most expensive acquisition project in the history of the Australian Army.