• Credit: HDA
    Credit: HDA

Hanwha Defense Australia has announced the site of its new Australian military vehicle production facility.

The company will construct a new facility on a 20-hectare site at Avalon Airport in the Greater Geelong precinct some 60km west of Melbourne’s CBD. The site will be leased from logistics company Linfox.

Construction of a state-of-the-art specialist armoured vehicle manufacturing plant is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2022 and take 24 months to complete. It is estimated that over 100 jobs will be created during construction of the $170 million facility.

Hanwha Defense Australia has been contracted for project Land 8116, a $0.9 to $1.3 billion project that will see the Commonwealth acquire self-propelled artillery systems to be manufactured at the new facility. The company is also one of two shortlisted contenders for Land 400 Phase 3, in which the Commonwealth is seeking to acquire up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

“The selection of this site in a strategic growth corridor of Victoria is a very significant step in further establishing Hanwha’s defence business in this country,” said Richard Cho, Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia.

“Hanwha Defense Australia is proud to be contracted by the Commonwealth to supply locally manufactured equipment to the ADF. We will build a modern facility here in Victoria to manufacture armoured vehicles and utilise the skilled and experienced workforce available to us in Geelong. Our facility will be a genuine centre of excellence, one that we can expand and adapt to fulfil different projects across different domains in the future.

“Hanwha is grateful to the Victorian State Government for their assistance in setting up our home base in Victoria, and we also appreciate the City of Greater Geelong Council’s warm welcome of Hanwha into their community," Cho said.

“With Australia’s close proximity to Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, I think it is likely Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become an important secondary line of supply back to South Korea. It may also help Hanwha fulfil contracts in other parts of the world."

Design work on Hanwha’s new specialist armoured vehicle manufacturing plant has been underway for some time and is now in its final stages. The 32,000 square metre facility will initially be focussed on the production of Hanwha’s AS9 self-propelled howitzer, but pre-planning has been conducted to allow for the rapid expansion of operations should Hanwha also win the Infantry Fighting Vehicle project.

“Hanwha will draw on Greater Geelong’s highly skilled and experienced workforce to deliver this project,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.

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.

The company says '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.

Australian veteran owned project management consultancy Conscia has been working with Hanwha on site selection, facility design and the tender process to determine which building company will be engaged to construct the facility.

There are five Australian-owned and Victorian-based construction companies currently shortlisted in an ongoing Request for Tender process.

Selection of the Avalon site comes after an extensive land search, a detailed feasibility study and a rigorous analysis and shortlisting process between Hanwha, Conscia, the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and Invest Victoria.

Over 10 potential sites were considered with a shortlist of five sites being further evaluated through an initial feasibility assessment. A masterplan and detailed feasibility exercise was then conducted on a further refined shortlist of three sites.

Key considerations included planning and zoning requirements, transport availability, engineering, advanced manufacturing capability, environmental and heritage assessments and the potential for future expansion.

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