Australia Continues Targeted Investment in Military Modernization

by: Matthew Potter
June 15, 2010

Category: Australia, Business Line, Companies, Countries, development program, Events, Force Protection, General Dynamics, logistics, production program, Thales | RSS 2.0

Australia has announced a series of contracts to upgrade parts of their military. Some of this has been in response to the fighting in Afghanistan since 9/11 and others due to the expanding ability of the Chinese and other Asian states military. These contracts include updated naval combat ships as well as the major commitment to the struggling F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). When at all possible Australia is awarding these to companies based in the country to maximize the stimulus effect of the contract. As all nations Australia has been affected by the global economic downturn of the last two years and is trying to spend its defense dollars judiciously to help its own domestic suppliers.

The next major contract announced is one for light armored vehicles that will be used to upgrade both troops in Australia and those deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. and its Allies have seen the need for better systems with more maneuverability and protection against the mine and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat.

The contract could be worth up to $1 billion (Aus) and several different teams will be bidding for it. One of these will be Thales Australia based in Victoria. As it names indicates this is part of the Thales, French based, aerospace and defense company. The company has about a $1 billion (Aus) business already in Australia so winning this contract will be a major coup and increase in their business.

The Australian government plans to conduct the contract in the same manner as the U.S. Department of Defense’s recent MRAP-ATV contest. Here companies were paid to build prototypes that were tested and then one or more of the designs were chosen. Australia is giving Thales and General Dynamics Land Systems, part of the U.S. General Dynamics (GD) defense giant, as well as a company headed up by the U.S. Force Protection (FRPT) MRAP maker contracts to deliver prototypes.

The choice of a new vehicle will be a major upgrade to the Australian defense capabilities and the decision to use an Australian based company to do the development and production will aid the county’s economy.

Photo from ISAF media flickr photostream.

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