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At the end of 2020, Germany’s Rheinmetall and Korea’s Hanwha Defense Systems each delivered three IFVs for the Risk Mitigation Activity in the scope of the Australian Defence Force’s LAND 400 Phase 3 armament programme. This comes after the two companies were selected as preferred bidders

Each vehicle has a crew of three and can carry six fully armed infantry soldiers. They are designed to fight alongside the country’s current and future armoured fleet and are suitably mobile.

Land 400 Phase 3 Contenders

Since then, Rheinmetall’s LYNX KF41 and Hanwha’s REDBACK have been tested across the Australian continent. The systems have been exposed to tropical, subtropical and temperate climates with hot-dry, sandy and hot-humid as well as cool-humid conditions. Temperatures below zero, as well as ice and snow, practically do not occur in the region. The test programme looks at testing effectiveness, lethality, mobility, and protection. Shooting with main and secondary weapons, as well as explosion tests, are part of individual tests. Suitability in combat scenarios and logistical aspects are also on the agenda.

In a kind of interim report, the Australian Department of Defence has reported on the status of the test campaign, but without elaborating on results. According to the report, the explosion tests have been completed, with which the resistance of the vehicles to enemy fire, mines and IEDs was examined. The vehicles offer up to Level 6 according to STANAG 4569.

In tactical scenarios in varying weather and terrain, individual vehicle functions were tested, as was the interaction of crew and vehicle during tactical manoeuvres, such as advances and attacks. The demonstration of firepower in connection with a combat exercise was a particual highlight. During this exercise, both vehicles fired their 30-mm main gun and coaxial and remotely controlled 7.62-mm machine guns, engaging targets at ranges from 300 to more than 2,000 metres. To ensure evasion after combat, multispectral smoke was fired from both vehicles.

In a summary, Maj. Gen. David Coghlan, head of the Armoured Vehicles Division of the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, said both vehicles, with their next-generation protective equipment, 30-mm cannon, anti-tank guided missiles and ability to engage helicopters and drones, offer capabilities not previously seen in the Army.

Next Steps

Under the LAND 400 Phase 3 programme, the Australian Defence Force plans to replace its M113 vehicle fleet, which has been in use since the mid-1960s. Approximately 450 IFVs are to be procured with between €15-23Bn planned for this effort. If selected, both companies have committed to building the majority of the vehicles in Australia, with significant investment in Australian industrial capacity to support Australian jobs, talent and technology.

A purchase decision is to be made in 2022 following the final report on the trials. The Australian Army aims to achieve Initial Operating Capability in 2024/25 and Full Operating Capability by 2030/31.

Gerhard Heiming