M113 replacement choice under threat – ?

PHOTORheinmetall’s KF41 Lynx, left, and Hanwha’s Redback, dwarf the M113 APC one of them will(?) replace. Defence image.

The decision as to which infantry fighting vehicle currently under consideration by the Australian Army should replace M113 has been officially deferred.

Selection of the winner in the LAND 400 Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle project was in its final stages of decision making, with a two-year, very-expensive Risk Mitigation Activity completed more than a year ago and Defence’s preference scheduled to have been communicated to the government earlier this year.

Today’s news will delay the announcement by perhaps a year – and may not be pleasing to Defence or the competing manufacturers when eventually handed down.

In fact, with the project so close to the final rubber-stamp stage, this delay could easily be interpreted as a threat to the whole project [Editor’s opinion].

In today’s official announcement, Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the Albanese Government would consider the findings of the Defence Strategic Review before deciding on the tender for the project.

“The Defence Strategic Review will make recommendations on priorities for investing in Australia’s defence capability and posture, to meet the nation’s security challenges over the next decade and beyond,” Mr Conroy said.

“It is responsible for the decision on a procurement worth between $18 billion and $27 billion to be informed by the findings of the review.

“The government remains focused on Australia’s future defence capability [but] we don’t want to pre-empt the findings of the review, which is especially critical given the rapidly changing strategic circumstances facing our nation.”

The final report from the Defence Strategic Review is due to be delivered to the government early next year.

Mr Conroy thanked Hanwha, Rheinmetall and the many other companies involved in the LAND 400 Phase 3 tender process for their understanding and professionalism.

Announced by the Albanese Government in August this year, the current Defence Strategic Review is being conducted by former Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and former Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal (retd) Angus Houston.

The review will examine force structure, force posture and preparedness, and investment prioritisation, to ensure Defence has the right capabilities to meet Australia’s growing strategic needs.

According to the review terms of reference, Professor Smith and Sir Angus are expected to deliver the review and its recommendations to government “no later than March 2023”.


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