Home Air Australia awards A$2.5B in deals for Huntsman howitzer, fighter trainer work

Australia awards A$2.5B in deals for Huntsman howitzer, fighter trainer work

RAAF Hawk 127
Royal Australian Air Force file photo of a Hawk 127 fast jet trainer

The Australian defense ministry has awarded two contracts totaling A$2.5 billion for work on the upgrades to the Royal Australian Air Force’s lead-in fighter training system and manufacturing work for the new Huntsman howitzer.

Under a $1.5 billion contract that will have a performance period of 10 years, BAE Systems Australia will provide in-service support for the Hawk 127 fast jet trainer based in the Hunter region and Perth.

The fighter training system provides aircrew with the skills and experience to bridge the gap between initial training and the skills required to operate air combat fast jet aircraft.

The update will include an engine replacement, to meet the emerging needs of pilots preparing to fly the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler.

Rolls-Royce will deliver the Mk951 Adour Engine. The defense ministry said design work to integrate the upgraded Mk951 engine to the aircraft is progressing to schedule.

“A 951 Adour engine upgrade for the Australian fleet will be incorporated by 2025 and will align the aircraft with the UK Royal Air Force’s T2 Hawk aircraft,” BAE Systems Australia said.

“Following the 2019 capability upgrade of the 33-strong fleet, the Hawk aircraft is today among the most capable jet trainers of its type in the world and very similar to the T2.”

The smaller of the two contracts was awarded to Elphinstone, who will manufacture 45 turrets and hulls for the Australian Army’s new Huntsman howitzers.

This is part of a $1 billion defense contract for new self-propelled howitzers for the Australian Army which was last year awarded to Hanwha Defense Australia. The initial contract covers 30 howitzers, 15 armored ammunition resupply vehicles, and weapon locating radars that help find enemy artillery, collectively referred to as the Huntsman family of vehicles.

Elphinstone will complete the steel fabrication, machining and painting of the turrets and hulls at their Wynyard factory, before shipping them to Hanwha in Geelong where the Huntsman vehicles will be assembled.

In addition to the manufacture of turrets and hulls, Elphinstone will also undertake structural repairs over the life of the howitzers, including design changes and modifications in the future.

The said this was a major vote of confidence in Elphinstone and Tasmania.

“After decades specializing in mining manufacturing capabilities, Elphinstone has secured its first defense contract – this is a big win for our highly skilled workers in Wynyard,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented.

“As manufacturing ramps up, around 55 new jobs will be created for locals in north-west Tasmania, in so many roles, including boilermaker welders, painters, fitters, machinists and other trades.”