BIDDING for the lucrative LAND 400 armoured vehicle project has stepped up with BAE Systems announcing a partnership with Finnish company Patria.
BAE’s Australian headquarters is in Adelaide, and the company planned to partner with Patria to bid for phase two of the project, with plans to “maximise contribution by Australian industry”.
The Land 400 project is worth more than $10 billion and one of the country’s most significant capability programs, with South Australia’s top defence team spending the past three years lobbying key bid companies.
In a positive announcement yesterday, BAE Systems said the two companies would work to deliver a Patria 8×8 Armoured Modular Vehicle.
“We make a strong team. Patria has a proven track record of technology transfer to user nations, and BAE Systems has a long and proud history of building and supporting both tracked and wheeled military vehicles, here and overseas,” BAE Systems Australia’s Acting Director — Land & Integrated Systems Graeme Bent said.
Patria is owned by the State of Finland and Airbus Group.
The BAE announcement comes after Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith told a national defence conference that South Australia would create a defence precinct capable of testing armoured vehicles to NATO standards if Land 400 work was brought to the state.
The speech in Brisbane was at the Land Forces 2014 event — a four-day conference billed as Australia’s premier land defence exhibition, where Mr Hamilton-Smith said a new land defence precinct called the Land Combat System Precinct would be created near either Techport or Edinburgh.
“This project offers a significant opportunity for jobs growth in South Australia,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
“In importance, it is Army’s equivalent to Navy’s future submarine and Air Forces’s Joint Strike Fighter.”
BAE has previously worked on the decade-long project to upgrade 433 M113 vehicles for the Australian Army, with more than 1000 people involved across three sites, including Wingfield in South Australia.
Phase three of the Land 400 project is to replace the M113.
Industry spokesman Chris Burns welcomed the BAE Systems announcement saying “Patria produce a good vehicle and it would be a good tender and BAE is a good SA-based company that would want to do as much work in SA as it could”.
Another SA-headquartered company, General Dynamics Land Systems Australia, was also bidding for the work, that was still waiting on Federal Government first pass approval.
Mr Hamilton-Smith recently travelled to Canada and Germany and met with General Dynamics Land Systems and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles, another company planning to bid for the project.
BAE senior vice president land business unit, Markku Bollman said the Patria AMV was a highly capable vehicle “with strong sales track-record and in use by seven different nations in wide range of environments”.
One of the Land 400 contract requirements was that the vehicles must already be in service with another defence force.