The Australian Government has announced a $788 million (AS$1 billion) defence contract for new Self-Propelled Howitzers for the Australian Army has been awarded to Hanwha Defense Australia. Based in Greater Geelong, the contract will procure Self-Propelled Howitzers and Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, under the LAND 8116 Phase 1 project. The Government committed to this project in May 2019. The contract signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea. This contract will create a minimum of 300 jobs spread across facility construction, acquisition and maintenance, as well as generating ongoing support opportunities for Australian industry until the late 2040s.
This initial contract covers 30 Self-Propelled Howitzers, 15 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles, and weapon locating radars that help find enemy artillery, collectively referred to as the Huntsman family of vehicles. The Self-Propelled Howitzer capability, including a strengthened industrial base, is one of several projects that will modernise the Australian Army, ensuring it continues to maintain a capability advantage now, and into the future. Australian Government are partnering with Hanwha to create an Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence in the Geelong region, which will establish a further strategic defence industry hub and future export opportunities for Australian businesses.
Hanwha plans to develop the “Huntsman” family of vehicles comprising of the K9 SPH and K10 AARV to deliver a complete mission. The SPH is a 52 calibre, 155 mm platform capable of taking advantage of current and emerging 155mm munitions technologies. It has a crew of 4 or 5 depending on the configuration with an ammunition capacity of up to 48 rounds and accompanying modular charge systems. The K10 AARV is a largely robotized system built on the same chassis as the K9. It holds 104 rounds of 155mm ammunition and is designed to provide ammunition resupply under armour and forward to the Artillery unit. Hanwha Defense has set new standards for the global defense industry by offering a huge lineup of products ranging from world-renowned artillery systems; armored vehicles; air defense systems; and unmanned ground systems.
As part of efforts to help expand the Australian defense industrial base, Hanwha Defense is committed to building the vehicles in the Geelong region and growing local skills, Cho said, adding the envisioned Geelong facility is expected to serve as an alternative sustainment and supply chain base for the global K9 family of vehicles. The project is expected to create up to 350 jobs to build and maintain the new vehicles, providing significant opportunities in other areas such as transport and warehousing, as well as component manufacture and repair. The transfer of IP and know-how to enable Australian Industry to, in the long term, allow for local design, engineering and manufacturing will be the most essential part of plans focused on developing the industrial base required for a sovereign capability.