BAE Systems Australia unveiled its Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle competitor for Land 400 Phase 2 on June 2, when it presented the AMV35 to industry for the first time in Melbourne, at the beginning of a national tour.
BAE Systems and Patria are teaming for Land 400 and the AMV35 is a ‘MOTS Plus’ response to the Phase 2 requirement, combining Patria’s Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV) with a BAE Systems Hägglunds CV9035 turret system, and stabilised ATK Bushmaster III 35mm cannon, with muzzle programmer. The turret also incorporates a co-axial 7.62mm machine gun.
Three AMV35 vehicles have been built as part of the risk mitigation activity (RMA), being diverted from the Patria AMV production line and fitted with the CV9035 turret in Finland. Two of the vehicles arrived in Australia in May, but the third has been retained in Europe as the integration test vehicle for the Elbit Battle Management System (BMS). This third vehicle was displayed at Eurosatory Defence and Security Exhibition held in Paris in June.
The baseline AMV is the teams’ MOTS offering and both it and the AMV35 are based on the latest production standard vehicle delivered to the United Arab Emirates and (most recently) South Africa.
One of the two AMV35 vehicles already in Australia was displayed at APV Safety Product’s facility in Campbellfield, on Melbourne’s northern outskirts, in front of invited industry guests including many of BAE Systems’ suppliers.
Brian Gathright, Land 400 Capture Manager used the opportunity to explain that BAE Systems had been focussing on the Phase 2 tender and upcoming Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA), and said that he was comfortable with the Australian Industry Content (AIC) aspect of the Commonwealth requirements.
“All options are on the table with regard to where in Australia the AMV35 will be manufactured, there has been no decision made,” he said. “But make no mistake; the BAE Systems tender is unambiguous about Australian manufacture. If we are fortunate to be selected to supply the Army’s next CRV, it will be built in Australia.”
Gathright said that the plan is to build the first tranche of vehicles in Finland to meet the Commonwealth’s first-of-type design acceptance requirements. The early production phase will provide the opportunity to up-skill Australian workers in the process, after which production in Europe will taper off as local production ramps up. BAE Systems said that a further advantage of this approach is that parallel initial production could be used to mitigate schedule risk, without excessive facilities investment.
“Patria has extensive experience with the transfer of technology, designed with low-volume, in-country manufacture in mind,” Gathright added. “Eighty five per cent of the vehicles will be delivered from the Australian production line.”
BAE Systems sees the technology transfer required to establish local production as low-risk and Gathright points out that Patria has extensive experience around the world in transferring production to customer nations.
“Patria’s Armoured Modular Vehicle is in service with six countries, with introduction into the seventh user nation underway now (and) most of these AMV programs have included local production,” he said. “Australia will be the sixth manufacturing nation.”
The AMV has been sold to the armed forces of Croatia, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates and South Africa is now introducing the vehicle into service. All nations bar Sweden have assembled, or are assembling, vehicles locally. Around 1,400 vehicles are in service and have been used operationally in Afghanistan by the Polish Armed Forces.
BAE Systems has said that it will establish an Australian production hub at a location which it says is yet to be decided, but which will be ‘configured and sized’ to provide through life support of the vehicle once the production phase is complete.
“Regardless of where manufacturing is undertaken, there will be significant opportunities for the Australian supply chain to support our ongoing Land 400 program,” Gathright said.
The Melbourne industry event was the first of several held across Australia by the company, as it seeks to expand its national supply chain in anticipation of local manufacture and it has pledged to work with its international partners to identify global supply chain opportunities for Australian SMEs.
BAE Systems said that during the RFT response period, it tested ‘a broad sample’ of work packages within its existing supply chain network – including both light and heavy fabrication; electric, hydraulic, pneumatic and cable assembly – and says that the local supplier base is price competitive with Patria and Hägglunds’ European supply chains.
“Patria’s assessment of risk is related to the sophistication of the local industry base and they were impressed by what they saw in Australia,” Gathright added, and encouraged local SMEs who consider they may have a particular technology or skill to the table to engage with the BAE Systems Land 400 team.
“There are real opportunities for innovative Australian companies,” he said.