The government announced a $1 billion defence contract for new self-propelled Howitzers for the Australian Army with Hanwha Defense Australia.
FILE PHOTO: Hanwha K9 Thunder – to be called Huntsman in Australia. Photo courtesy Hanwha.
The contract signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea on 13 December 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the contract would procure** self-propelled Howitzers and armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, under Project LAND 8116 Phase 1.
The government committed to this project in May 2019, while in caretaker mode before the last Federal election.
“Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the Republic of Korea is underpinned by our joint commitment to defence and security cooperation,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“The contract with Hanwha demonstrates the value of industrial collaboration in supporting our countries in addressing mutual security challenges.
“We are partnering with Hanwha to create an Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence in the Geelong region, which will establish a further strategic defence industry hub and future export opportunities for Australian businesses.
“This contract will create a minimum of 300 jobs spread across facility construction, acquisition** and maintenance, as well as generating ongoing support opportunities for Australian industry until the late 2040s.
“My government is securing Geelong’s place as front and centre of Australia’s defence industry.”
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said initial contract covered 30 self-propelled Howitzers, 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and weapon-locating radars that would help find enemy artillery – collectively referred to as the Huntsman family of vehicles.
“The prime ability of the new vehicles is to fire and move quickly, avoiding enemy counter-attack,” Minister Dutton said.
“This project will mean a significant increase in the level of firepower and security for Australian artillery capability.
“We are committed to keeping our region safe, while protecting our interests in a rapidly changing global environment.
“The self-propelled Howitzer capability, including a strengthened industrial base, is one of several projects that will modernise the Australian Army, ensuring it continues to maintain a capability advantage now, and into the future.
“This new capability will give our soldiers the best possible chance of completing their missions and returning home safe to their families.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said investment in Australia’s domestic industrial base enhanced our ability to sustain critical defence capabilities and further positioned Australia as an exporter of military equipment and technology to our allies.
“The new facility will create hundreds of local jobs and become a national asset for military capability, supporting** land-combat vehicles for the Australian Army,” Minister Price said.
“Australian industry will play a vital role delivering** and sustaining the Huntsman capabilities at the new facility.
“The announcement of this significant contract and the future facility is tremendous news for Victoria and working Australians, as well as defence companies across the country.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Am I missing something here? In May 2019, Prime Minister Morrison said “…we will build them and maintain them in Geelong”. In September 2020, Hanwha was requested to tender (unopposed) to “build and maintain” these vehicles in Geelong. In January 2021, the Victorian government threw “its support behind Hanwha to build and maintain Australian military vehicles in Geelong”.
The press release above is all about ‘procure’ and ‘deliver’ – no mention of made, built or manufactured in Geelong.