An Australian subsidiary of a major German arms manufacturer looks set to sell 100 heavy armoured vehicles made in Ipswich in Queensland to the German Army.
Rheinmetall Australia was established to market the Boxer 8×8 wheeled Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) to the Australian Army for Project LAND 400 Phase 2, and the Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for LAND 400 Phase 3. The Boxer went on to win Phase 2 in 2018, while a decision on Phase 3 has been delayed, reportedly to align with April’s public release of the Defence Strategic Review.
As part of the company’s pitch for both phases of the project, Rheinmetall Australia promised to build both vehicles in Australia using Australian steel and component suppliers, and to this end established a new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) at Ipswich in Queensland. Apart from the production facility, the MILVEHCOE also features a vehicle obstacle test track and an army truck sustainment and upgrade facility.
Of the 211 Boxers ordered by the Australian Army, the first 25 were manufactured in Germany to an interim configuration while the MILVEHCOE was built, but production of the remaining 186 Boxers officially began at Ipswich on 20 March.
The Boxer’s hull and armour are made from steel supplied by Port Kembla-base Bisalloy, and that steel has been certified for incorporation into Rheinmetall’s and other companies’ global supply chains for use on armoured vehicle programs in Europe. Other major components, including the Boxer’s turret and suspension, are Australian-designed and produced.
Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defence Thomas Hitschler visited the Australian Army’s 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, which operates the Boxer at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane, on 21 march. He then signed a Letter of Cooperation on Boxer Heavy Weapon Carrier Vehicle Production with Federal Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy in Canberra on 23 March.
When finalised, this agreement will see 100 Boxers produced at MILVECHOE for the German Bundeswehr as part of Germany’s urgent appropriation of €100 billion ($A162 billion) to expand its armed forces in the wake of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. It would also be one of the largest single defence export contracts in Australia’s history.
“We are excited about the prospect of Boxers for the German Army being built in Brisbane, using suppliers across Australia to assist in the production,” Mr Conroy said in a 23 March release.
“This export opportunity would secure well-paid secure jobs in Queensland and across the country, helping to build Australia’s defence industry and boost our economy.
“We are keen to export this world-leading capability to a trusted and respected security partner, and to further strengthen the defence relationship between our countries.”