Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne today announced that BAE Systems Australia and Sea Box International would compete to develop prototype ammunition load carriers for 155mm ammunition.
Minister Pyne said both BAE Systems Australia and Sea Box International had committed to undertaking the design and engineering prototype work [for a generous fee] in Australia.
“This is a wonderful example of the Defence innovation system leveraging world-class Australian industry research and development to produce a 155mm ammunition unit load carrier (ULC) that will improve the efficiency of the supply chain and ultimately the safety of Australian soldiers,” Minister Pyne said.
In June 2016, BAE Systems delivered a large batch of new ULCs (pictured above and right), which, a spokesman for Minister Pyne’s office told CONTACT this afternoon, were based on an existing 20+ year-old design.
However, CONTACT understands the containers manufactured last year were “designed and produced in BAE Systems’ South Australian workshop” after initial testing in Adelaide and Monegeetta necessitated some design modifications before full-scale production.
Notwithstanding this discrepancy in official informations, the spokesman for Minister Pyne’s office told CONTACT this afternoon that although the existing ULC was safe when used appropriately, it had limited utility because it could only be transported by Commonwealth land vehicles for ‘the last mile’ to gun line, and could not be used on ships, aircraft or public roads.
“The new ULC will be able to go from factory door to gun line on various transport options, including the ability to be fully integrated into the new Land 121-3 truck fleet,” the spokesman said.
“Delivery of the new ULC will improve the supply chain by not having to re-pack four ammunition components multiple times.
“This in turn will also improve safety, through the reduction of manual handling by soldiers, and certification for multiple transport options.”
Minister Pyne said the project focused industry innovation into prototype development of a single, safe unit load carrier that will work across the supply chain.
“The prototype aims to improve operational use and reduce manual handling of 155mm ammunition by combat troops.”
CONTACT understands the contracts signed today are for design work only with ‘development outcomes informing future Defence procurement of ammunition load carrier solutions’.
The combined value of the contracts is $3.27 million with funding made available through the Rapid Prototyping, Development and Evaluation program.