The Commonwealth has shortlisted Rheinmetall's Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and Hanwha's Redback IFV for Land 400 Phase 3.
The two bids will now progress to the Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) stage, leaving GDLS's Ajax and BAE Systems' CV90 IFVs unsuccessful.
Land 400 Phase 3 is seeking to acquire up to 450 tracked IFVs to replace the M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) which, although upgraded, have been in service since the Vietnam War. It is the largest Land investment in Australian history, worth ~$15 billion.
The proposed vehicle mobilisation period for the RMA has been extended from six months to 12 months, which Defence says will provide the two successful tenderers with a more reasonable timeline in which to manufacture and prepare test vehicles to the configuration required.
“Concurrent activities and workshops will also be undertaken in order to clarify and refine the offers to mitigate risk to the Commonwealth (and) Stage 2 is anticipated to conclude around the end of 2021,” Defence said. “The project will then undertake the Stage 3 final evaluation and down-selection of a preferred tenderer.”
The Request for Tender (RfT) closed on 1 March. Defence previously expressed a preference for manned turrets on the IFV proposal, viewing unmanned turrets as 'too technologically immature' for current requirements. This view lead to PSM deciding not to offer its Puma IFV for the RfT, leaving the four contenders above, and now two.
The current timeline will see Land 400 Phase 3 return to Government for consideration in 2022.
ADM Comment: Opinions as to which contender would be successful were invigorated by the government's election-eve decision to revive a program to acquire self-propelled howitzers (now named Land 8116) in May, which many believe will influence the final decision for Land 400 Phase 3.
Others point to Rheinmetall's success in Phase 2 as an influential factor, although Defence has previously told ADM that it has 'de-linked' Phase 2 and Phase 3 'to ensure that ‘best of breed’ solutions be fully examined for each of the program’s key platforms'.
ADM assumes that the capability/AIC matrix will have a significant role to play in the government's decision after the RMA program concludes, with both companies already making announcements in this space.