On the opening day on Land Forces 2021, WA-based shipbuilder Austal announced it will submit a proposal to the Commonwealth to design, build and sustain amphibious warfare vessels and vehicles under the latter’s Land 8710 Phase 1 (Littoral Manoeuvre – Light) program.
The $800 million Land 8710/1 project was formally announced in February by former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and will oversee the build in Australia of new vessels to replace Army’s current LCM-8 (Landing Craft Mechanised) and 5-ton LARC-V (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) fleets, beginning in 2026.
Austal CEO Paddy Gregg told ADM that Austal will team for the bid, but will not select a partner, or partners, until a formal Request for Tender (RFT) is announced and the Commonwealth’s requirements are fully understood.
“We’re doing a lot of concept work to understand what’s technically possible and then we will align that with what the customer wants to deliver the best possible product we can,” Gregg said.
“And in doing that, we will partner with the people who have the most experience in the areas the customer tells us they are looking for.”
Gregg added that Austal’s proposal will include construction of the vessels in its Henderson facility, following on from work it is currently undertaking to deliver Guardian and Enhanced Cape-class patrol boats to the Navy and Australia’s Pacific partners.
“We want to do that for two reasons, one to win the work and deliver capability for the ADF, but second, we would really like to develop a product that is capable of export,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity for Australia, a great opportunity for Austal, and a great opportunity for Australian businesses to get their product, their components on vessels that will hopefully be used around the world.
During the first day of Land Forces 2021, Navantia also announced it will team with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to bid a solution for Land 8710 (see separate story), and back in October 2019, BMT announced it is offering its Caimen 90 landing craft for the program.