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LAND 400, SEA 5000, OneSKY and Chemring Australia

LAND 400 Phase 2

As widely reported, Rheinmetall Defence Australia won the bid for LAND 400 Phase 2 to supply Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles to the Army. This means that the assembly of the vehicles will be carried out in Queensland. The Victorian Government had partnered with BAE Systems Australia during the tendering process to carry out the production at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne if BAE was successful.

While we were obviously disappointed not to host the production of the vehicles here in Victoria, I congratulate Rheinmetall. When making the announcement, the Turnbull Government emphasised that the capability of the Boxer vehicle was the key to Rheinmetall’s success. To accommodate the apparent cost disadvantage of the Boxer compared to BAE’s AMV 35 vehicle, a reduced number of vehicles has been ordered by the Army.

Although the production will not be based in Victoria, many of Rheinmetall’s suppliers are Victorian, including Able Industries, Albins, AME Systems, APT, AW Bell, Cablex, Extel, Hilton Manufacturing, Nezkot, Supacat Australia, Tectonica and Kidde Deugra. I congratulate these companies and look forward to working with them to maximise their opportunities in the project.

LAND 400 Phase 3 tendering is due to commence in late 2018 with contract signature expected in 2022. This will be the single largest LAND project yet to be procured by the Army. The estimated value is $10-14 billion to acquire more than 400 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. We understand that a number of companies, including Rheinmetall, General Dynamics Land Systems, and BAE Systems Australia, are showing keen interest in tendering for this project.

As the process unfolds, the Victorian Government will once again endeavour to attract the production of the vehicles to Victoria and maximise opportunities for Victorian SMEs.

SEA 5000

The next major contract to be decided in Australia's naval shipbuilding program will be the Future Frigates, known as SEA 5000. A decision is expected no later than June 2018. In the competition to provide the frigate design and build are BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia.

While the Turnbull Government has already announced that ship construction will take place in South Australia, there are many opportunities for Victorian suppliers to participate in the Future Frigates program. In recent weeks, with Defence Council of Victoria member John O’Callaghan, I have been speaking with each of the bidders about opportunities for their European suppliers to partner with Victorian SMEs. These partnerships will be critical to maximising work opportunities and the technology and industrial capability transfer from overseas to local companies.

Once again, we are looking to utilise the infrastructure at Fishermans Bend, and the engineering and research capabilities that will be located there through the Defence Science and Technology Group and University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering.

OneSKY

While LAND 400 and SEA 5000 have attracted a lot of media attention of late, the recent announcement of the $1.2 billion contract between Airservices Australia, the ADF and Thales to deliver an air traffic management system that integrates civilian and military air traffic has largely slipped by unnoticed.  

Named OneSKY, the air traffic management system is nonetheless a massive technology breakthrough and of great significance for jobs in Victoria. All up, the deployment and operation of OneSKY involves 450 jobs in Melbourne plus around 200 additional jobs across the entire Australian Thales supply chain.

According to Thales, OneSKY is the world's most advanced civil military airspace integration project and will provide air traffic management for 11% of the globe.

Chemring Australia

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Chemring Australia at its Lara premises. This is one of the major facilities in Chemring Group’s international operations, where it manufactures leading edge countermeasures for aircraft in one of the most modern, safe and secure factories in the world.

Chemring is currently in discussions with the Victorian Government about how we may be able to assist the company to become a major global supplier in the Joint Strike Fighter program. If successful, this would secure the future of the Lara operations for many years.

Greg Combet – 20 March 2018