MELBOURNE, Australia – The Australian government has selected Hanwha and Rheinmetall to participate in the next phase of its A$15 billion (U.S. $10.3 billion) infantry fighting vehicle program, being delivered under Project Land 400 Phase 3.

Hanwha’s AS21 Redback IFV, a variant of the South Korean Army’s K21 vehicle, and Rheinmetall’s Lynx KF41 will now progress to a 12-month risk mitigation activity program later this year, which will test the vehicles under operational conditions.

Land 400 Phase 3 (Mounted Close Combat Capability) will acquire up to 450 tracked IFVs to replace the Australian Army’s ageing M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers. A decision on which tenderer will progress to the acquisition phase of the program will be presented to government for consideration in 2022.

“The two companies have been assessed as offering vehicles that are best able to meet the requirements of the Army while offering value for money for defense,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said at the Sept. 16 announcement.

The announcement reduces the field from four to two, with BAE Systems (CV90) and General Dynamics Land Systems (Ajax) now eliminated from the competition.

Phase 3 of the overarching Land 400 program follows on from the A$5.2 billion (U.S. $3.6 billion) Phase 2, under which Rheinmetall is delivering 211 Boxer wheeled 8x8 combat reconnaissance vehicles to replace the Australian Army’s light armored vehicles.

Rheinmetall is assembling all but the first 25 Boxers at its recently established Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence at Ipswich, west of Brisbane. Local industry participation will be a key requirement for Land 400 Phase 3.

“Australian industry involvement and Australian workers are vital to this project,” Price said. “Phase 3 is another important opportunity for Australian industry to deliver leading edge technology for the ADF.”

Rheinmetall has indicated it will assemble the Lynx in its Ipswich facility and Hanwha announced on May 23 that it had teamed with EOS Group and Elbit Systems to develop the AS21 and build it in Geelong, south of Melbourne.

Hanwha and Rheinmetall are also the prime contenders for the Australian Army’s recently revitalized Land 8116 program, which will acquire 30 self-propelled howitzers, together with support vehicles and systems.

Hanwha is proposing a local version of its K9 Thunder 155mm SPH, dubbed Aussie Thunder, which the company said in May would be assembled in Geelong irrespective of the Land 400 Phase 3 outcome. Rheinmetall is expected to offer a solution based on its PzH 2000 vehicle.

Nigel Pittaway is the Australia correspondent for Defense News.

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