Maj.Gen. David Coghlan details new Armoured Vehicles Division
Australia’s land systems procurement division is to be given a shake up to ensure that a proper focus is to be given to its major programmes that are about to get underway.
Speaking at Land Forces Asia 2018, Maj.Gen. David Coghlan, Head of Land Systems at the Australian DoD’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) procurement organisation said that from January 2019 an Armoured Vehicles Division would be split off from the Land Systems Division.
Under the new Armoured Vehicles Division, which he would lead, the priority will be given to pushing ahead with Land 400 Phases 2 and 3 for the new BOXER combat reconnaissance vehicle (CRV) and mounted combat capability (MCC) respectively; Land 907 Phase 2 for an upgraded ABRAMS M1A2 MBT and Land 8160 Phase 1 for a new bridging and armour breaching capability.
It will also include the Mounted Combat Systems Programme Office that will manage the through life support for Australia’s armoured fighting vehicles. The total amount spent on acquisition in these programmes is A$21 billion making it the army’s biggest programme. Maj.Gen. Coghlan said the Armoured Vehicle Division would have a 4-5 year life to get these programmes to their contract stage.
He said that, “schedule is key,” because the army has a capability gap and it, “can’t send soldiers into the fight where there is an anti-armour threat,” due to the obsolescence of the M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers which are, “not mission capable,” and the ASLAV vehicles that are, “not deployable to anywhere where there is a serious threat.”
As a result he said that Block 1 BOXER vehicles started to arrive at the beginning of September, with 25 vehicles purchased from the Netherlands. This will give the soldiers a chance to train on them and give industry a chance to see how they are constructed and reduce risk. The army will keep about 20 of them for operations to gain an understanding of the capability.
Rheinmetall was only recently awarded the Land 400 Phase 2 contract and has get to sign subcontracts with industry partners so the CRV is only just getting started. For Phase 3 MCC, Maj.Gen. Coghlan told MONCh that the timeline was key and that industry had to keep to that.
He said that the programme was progressing since the RFT was released on 24 August and it calls for a tracked vehicle, with a manned turret and transportable by C-17 and the Landing Helicopter Dock ships and non-negotiable elements. Bids must include the Rafael SPIKE ATGM, EOS RWS and a 30mm cannon to retain commonality with the BOXER CRV.
The RFT will close on 1 March and will be followed by a 6-month initial evaluation that will result in a shortlist of two companies in the third quarter of 2019. These remaining bidders will be contracted for a vehicle mobilisation for test and evaluation that will last for a year until the third quarter of 2020 when three vehicles will be delivered for a Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA).
The RMA will last for another year until the third quarter of 2021 when a government decision is expected in 2022. An initial operating capability is expected in 2024-2025 and full operational capability to follow in 2030-31.