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Australia’s future IFV contestants test their sea legs

Australian IFV contestants sea trials
The Hanwha Defense Australia Redback, left, and the Rheinmetall Defence Australia KF-41 Lynx next to HMAS Adelaide at HMAS Kuttabul. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The two vehicle models being pitched for the Australian Army’s infantry fighting vehicle project have undergone sea transportability trials in Sydney.

These trials for the Hanwha Defense Australia’s Redback and Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s KF-41 Lynx marked the end of the extensive test and evaluation program undertaken as part of the two-year risk mitigation activity under the LAND 400 Phase 3 project.

The vehicles were tested on their interoperability with a wide range of naval assets at HMAS Penguin and Garden Island naval bases, including various navy landing craft and major ships including HMAS Choules and the landing helicopter dock, HMAS Adelaide.

Australian defense force personnel tested the ability of the vehicles to operate on and off the landing craft and ships, including transfers between the assets.

The integration testing ensured the vehicles could effectively operate with the wider joint force, the defense ministry said.

“These trials have proven that these vehicles can be moved on a variety of Navy landing craft and ships, which will allow this capability in the future to be deployed by both strategic lift and tactical maritime platforms.” Major General Coghlan, Head of the Armoured Vehicle Division within Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, said.

Valued at between A$18.1 billion and $27.1 billion, the infantry fighting vehicle project represents the biggest acquisition in the history of the Australian Army.

The completion of the sea trials also marked the end of the project’s risk mitigation activity. The acquisition is scheduled to be considered by the government next year, when the winning proposal is expected to be selected.

Up to 450 IFVs and a maneuver support vehicle capability comprising up to 17 vehicles are expected to be procured.

Hanwha is offering its Redback IFV equipped with an active protection system from Elbit and Plasan’s armor. Redback is armed with an Mk44S Bushmaster II 30mm cannon a co-axially mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The company says it would build the vehicles at its facility in Greater Geelong if it wins the tender.

The Lynx KF41 vehicle offered by Rheinmetall weighs around 40 tons and can carry 3+8 soldiers. Lynx includes the digital Lance turret with electronic architecture common with the Boxer 8×8 CRV the company is already delivering to Australia.