Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR MAY 2016 Contents COVER STORY
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 20 | MAY 2016
ABOVE: Open vehicle architecture and the ability to accept
regular technology insertions and technical refreshes over
life-of-type will be critical for maintaining the mounted combat
capability and a function that Australian industry must be able to
perform. Image: Patria
design and development of ve-
hicles such as Bushmaster and
Hawkei have been possible,
in part, because of the exper-
tise, infrastructure and supply
chain created by the local car
Defence formally acknowl-
edges the role of local indus-
try by describing it as a ‘fun-
damental input to capability’.
However, this doesn’t mean
that local industry should be
able to design a new aircraft
carrier from scratch and buy
everything required from
Australian suppliers. Only
a few countries such as the
United States and perhaps
Russia are capable of that lev-
el of local industry support.
Equally, it doesn’t mean the
other end of the spectrum
where the only contribution
from Australian industry is provision of low level items such as
raw materials and fasteners.
Let’s Get Real
So what are realistic goals for local industry support for Land 400?
Should Army look to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal
Australian Air Force (RAAF) for ideas? What has been achieved
on previous armoured vehicle programs in Australia? What are
some of the steps that the Commonwealth can take now to ensure
that local industry is a fundamental input to the mounted combat
Australia does not design and manufacture 8x8 wheeled ar-
moured vehicles or tracked armoured vehicles. That much is clear.
Around 30 countries worldwide can claim to manufacture 8x8 ve-
hicles but not all of them can design one from scratch. And only
a handful of countries can design and manufacture all of the key
sub-systems as well. In other words, most modern 8x8 wheeled ar-
moured vehicles are globalised products with global supply chains.
It is not a realistic goal for Australia to design and manufacture a
new vehicle for Land 400 Phase 2. That much should also be clear.
Besides, being able to design and manufacture a new vehicle from
scratch would not add much to Australia’s mounted combat ca-
pability. Designing and building a new vehicle takes several years.
The Army needs to respond to operational demands within weeks
and months not years.
It is a realistic goal, however, for Australia to manufacture, sup-
port and further develop the Land 400 vehicles. To understand this
goal, it is worth considering how the RAN and RAAF procure ma-
jor platforms as well as the methods that have been used on the last
three new armoured vehicle programs.
Each of the three services normally uses different approaches
to local industry involvement. The RAAF for example, tends to
embrace Foreign Military Sales (FMS) with the occasional com-
mercial purchase from European suppliers. Aircraft are normally
manufactured overseas and then flown to Australia. The Joint
Strike Fighter (JSF) program is an exception. Several Australian
suppliers are supplying parts and services for the whole program.
This is possible because the JSF design is largely common among
The RAN normally acquires major surface combatants and
submarines built in Australia but to a foreign design. There is a
significant effort required to adapt a foreign design built in a for-
eign shipyard to an Australian design built in an Australian ship-
yard. Indeed, the effort required can be similar in magnitude to
the effort required for the original design. In the end though, the
RAN and Australia finish up with an extensive team of people that
understands how the ship went together and with infrastructure
that can support the ships during their service life. This is a funda-
mental input to naval capability and a major reason for the current
decisions to build ships and submarines in Australia rather than
overseas, the recent auxiliary oiler replenishment contract not-
Until now, the Army has been built around people rather than
platforms. A brigade or a battalion has not been conceived as a sys-
tem of equipment in the same way that the RAN conceives a Col-
lins-class submarine or how the RAAF conceives its Super Hornet
aircraft. As a result, the acquisition of equipment and the genera-
tion of local industry capability have been fragmented and diffi-
cult to co-ordinate. In general and particularly in recent years, a lot
of equipment has been manufactured overseas with limited local
industry involvement. The notable exceptions are the Bushmaster
and Hawkei vehicle programs.
With Land 400, the Army has the opportunity to become more
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