The government of Australia has taken the next step toward obtaining 30 self-propelled howitzers for the Protected Mobile Fires project.
The government issued a statement announcing the request for tender that will be released to preferred supplier Hanwha Defense Australia. The company will be tasked with building 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armored ammunition resupply vehicles along with the required supporting systems.
The new weapons will be built in the Geelong region and maintenance will occur in the same facility for the remainder of the vehicles’ service life.
This is the first phase of the government’s 2020 Force Structure Plan which provides a long-term future for the industry in providing armored vehicles for the ADF.
Melissa Price, the Minister for Defense Industry, said that the government is committed to maximizing the opportunities for Australian industry.
Hanwha Defense Australia is prepared to respond to the request for tender. The program, codenamed Land 8116, has a budget of up to AUD $1.3 billion.
Richard Cho, managing director of Hanwha Defense Australia, said that this is a “tremendous outcome” for the company. He further stated that the company appreciated the show of trust from the Australian government.
The government has committed to building the vehicles in the Geelong region and growing the skills of local citizens in order to expand the Australian defense industrial base. They expect that the facility in Geelong will provide an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the K9 family of vehicles.
Up to 350 jobs are expected to be created as a result of this project in order to build and maintain the vehicles. This will provide opportunities in areas like transport, warehousing, manufacturing and repair.
Critical to the plan is the transfer of IP and knowledge which will enable the Australian defense industry to locally design, engineer, and manufacture assets for the ADF. This is the long-term plan which is focused on developing the industrial base needed for a sovereign defense force.
Hanwha is planning to develop the “Huntsman” family of vehicles. The K9 SPH and K10 AARV will be delivered to the government to fulfill the order. The SPH is a 52 caliber, 155mm platform which is poised to take advantage of existing 155mm ammunition technology. It holds a crew of 4 or 5 depending on how it is configured. It can hold up to 48 rounds and the accompanying modular charge system.
The AARV is a robotized system built on the same chassis as the SPH. It can carry 104 rounds of 155mm ammo and is designed to provide an armored transport of ammo to front line artillery units.
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Lee Sung-soo, CEO of Hanwha Defense, said that the decision by the Australian government was evidence of the platform’s performance and of the trust that the government had placed in the company. He said that the company intends to build a “significant manufacturing base” in the Geelong region in order to build and support the K9 and K10 fleets and provide sovereign support capability for the entire lifetime of the Huntsman fleet.