• The Prime Minister breaks ground at new Hanwha defence manufacturing site at Avalon near Geelong in Victoria. (Hanwha)
    The Prime Minister breaks ground at new Hanwha defence manufacturing site at Avalon near Geelong in Victoria. (Hanwha)

Construction of Hanwha Defense Australia’s new manufacturing facility officially commenced on Friday 8 April with a ‘sod turning’ ceremony attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Hanwha is building a specialist armoured vehicle production facility on a 15-hectare site at Avalon Airport in the Greater Geelong precinct some 60 kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD.

Hanwha Defense Australia has been contracted by the Australian Government for project Land 8116, a more than $1 billion project to acquire self-propelled artillery systems. The company is also one of two shortlisted contenders, alongside Rheinmetall, for Land 400 Phase 3 where the Commonwealth is seeking to acquire up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles for the ADF.

“This is a great day for Hanwha with work beginning on what will be our first major manufacturing facility outside the Republic of Korea,” Jaeil Son, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hanwha Defense Corporation, said. “Hanwha appreciates the assistance of the Victorian State Government in setting up our new facility in Victoria, and we are also grateful to the City of Greater Geelong Council for their warm welcome of Hanwha into the community."

“The new Hanwha facility to be built on this site will be a key addition to Australia’s sovereign defence capability,” Richard Cho, the Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia, said. “Both countries have much to gain from each other economically, but benefits are especially significant in terms of regional security. The long-standing trust and friendship between Australia and the Republic of Korea is a great asset.

“With Australia’s close proximity to Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become a critical and important secondary line of supply back to South Korea.

“The Australian operation will also help Hanwha fulfil contracts in other parts of the world and deliver capacity to engage with Five Eyes nations."

Construction of a specialist armoured vehicle manufacturing plant is scheduled to take 24 months to complete. The $170 million 32,000 square metre facility will initially be focussed on the production of Hanwha’s AS9 self-propelled howitzer and AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply vehicles, but pre-planning has been conducted to allow for the rapid expansion of operations should Hanwha also win the Infantry Fighting Vehicle project.

In addition to the potential for multiple assembly lines, the plant will feature a 1500 metre test track, a deep-water test facility and an obstacle course to ensure the Hanwha vehicles function as intended prior to delivery.

According to Hanwha, ample provision has been made for Hanwha’s Australian industry partners to co-locate on the new site as necessary to streamline the manufacturing process and add 'maximum versatility' as Hanwha’s Australian interests expand.

On display at the event were examples of the AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzer and the AS10 armoured ammunition resupply vehicle that will be manufactured in the new facility.

The Hanwha AS9 Huntsman was specially developed for Australia to incorporate learnings and experience from the global fleet of over 2400 K9 howitzers. With the AS9 Huntsman, Hanwha is offering a proven 52-caliber 155mm gun system that is in-service with multiple nations around the world including the NATO alliance.

The AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle is a highly protected and manoeuvrable ammunition resupply vehicle with a unique loading system that reduces risk to soldiers from enemy fire.

Hanwha says that local production of the AS9 and AS10 Huntsman vehicles will see Australia enter the global supply chain for the entire fleet with ongoing development of the Australian Manufacturing and Supply Chain to the global K9 user community. There will be full engineering support in Australia with reach-back to all original equipment manufacturers.

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