At the beginning of this month, Berlin and Canberra signed a preliminary deal to build approximately one hundred ARTEC Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicles in Australia. These vehicles are destined for the Bundeswehr. This occurred even though the Australian Army had already ordered 211 vehicles of this type in the CRV (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle) variant offered by the German industry, with a total value of over 3 billion euros, as part of the LAND 400 Phase 2 programme.
Within the framework of this agreement, Germany was willing to grant major concessions to the Australian side. Thanks to technology transfer, 186 of the 211 Boxer CRVs anticipated to be purchased by the Australian Army will be made in Brisbane, Queensland. Regarding the agreement on the vehicles that are planned for use by the Bundeswehr, the total value of the arrangement is around 660 million euros. This is the first time the Australian industry has successfully secured a contract of this significance.
If such a strategy had been implemented, the KF-41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle that was offered by the German company Rheinmetall for Phase 3 of the Land 400 programme run by the Australian Army might have been selected. But that did not turn out to be the case.
The Australian Ministry of Defence announced on the 27th of July that they would finally decide to go with the AS-21 Redback, which is manufactured by the South Korean company Hanwha, to replace the M113 armoured vehicles that were manufactured in the United States and have been used by the Australian Army since the 1960s. The value of the contract ranges between 3 and 4.3 billion euros, equivalent to between 5 and 7 billion Australian dollars.
This acquisition follows a prior order placed with the same South Korean manufacturer for 30 self-propelled howitzers model AS-9 Thunder and 15 ammunition resupply trucks model AS-10. Following the publication of Australia’s new defence doctrine in April of the same year, the initial purchase that was announced in December 2021 was subsequently decreased. To accomplish this deal for 630 million euros, Hanwha invested in a factory in Grand Geelong, located in Victoria.
According to a statement released by the Australian government, the production of the Hanwha AS-21 Redback vehicles for the Australian Army will take place on the Grand Geelong assembly lines. This is projected to sustain up to 600 direct jobs and over a thousand jobs in the supply chain of the Australian industry.
In addition, Australia’s government has decided to speed up the implementation of Phase 3 of the Land 400 programme. This is because the AS-21 vehicles are expected to be delivered between 2027 and 2028, two years earlier than the initial plan. However, it is important to note that the ultimate goal has been scaled back as the new Australian military policy has opted to acquire only 129 Infantry Fighting Vehicles rather than the original intention to purchase 450 of them.