Hanwha Defense Australia’s Redback and Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s Lynx were on display in Canberra on March 12. Both are candidates for Australian Army’s future infantry fighting vehicle, with Australian Government Department of Defence looking to acquire up to 450 under Land 400 Phase 3. From an earlier selection of four vehicles, Lynx and Redback were assessed as best to meet Defence’s requirements with growth potential to address future and evolving threats. Three of each vehicle have arrived in Australia to undergo a risk-mitigation activity that will include mobility, reliability and blast testing. Contracts, supply chains and maintenance associated with the vehicles will also be examined, with a recommendation on the preferred tenderer going to government for decision next year.
Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group’s Head of Armoured Vehicles Major General David Coghlan said,”Both were fifth-generation infantry fighting vehicles that would far surpass their predecessor, which had been in service in various forms since 1965. “The world has changed, the M113 has been in service almost as long as I’ve been alive. The operational environment today is totally different, far more demanding and far more threatening. The trial soldiers will be on a steep learning curve going into a fully digitised vehicle and turret, but they are up to it and are looking forward to putting the vehicles through their paces. Once a fleet of these is in our hands, they’ll operate in ways we haven’t contemplated yet.The role of the dismount in many ways won’t change, but they’ll be better protected and have much better communication and connectivity. How dismounts are used will be reflected in the ability of the vehicles to dominate the battlefield.”
The evaluation team would also keep in mind potential for future digital, mechanical and weapon upgrades. LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15 billion Army program which will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and tracked APC. There are four main industry contenders, each offering a different solution to Army’s request for tender (RFT), including BAE Systems Australia, Hanwha Defense Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and Rheinmetall. Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia have each delivered three prototype infantry fighting vehicles – two for test and evaluation activities and one for blast testing – as part of the two-year Risk Mitigation Activity under Land 400 Phase 3.
The Hanwa AS21 Redback, which along with Rheinmetall Defence’s Lynx KF41 IFV has been shortlisted to compete for the AUD10–15 billion (USD6.9–10.3 billion) Project Land 400 Phase 3 to provide the Australian Army with up to 450 modern IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles. The AS21 Redback weighs 42 tons, can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h, has a maximum range of 520 km, a crew of three and can carry up to eight additional troops, according to Hanwha Defense. The platform is a heavily upgraded version of the K21 IFV, which has been in service with the Republic of Korea Army since 2009. The Lynx KF41 (Kettenfahrzeug 41) is a next-generation tracked infantry fighting vehicle developed by Rheinmetall Defence for global defence customers. It is the larger variant of the Lynx combat vehicle family, which also includes Lynx KF31 model.