01 Oktober 2007
M2A2 towed of the Australia Army (photo : Defense Industry Daily)
In February 2006, the Australian Government gave first pass approval for the replacement of the ADF’s current 105mm and 155mm artillery pieces with new, more capable, artillery systems that feature improved mobility, protection, range and accuracy. Current systems are all towed, and include the aged 105mm M2A2, the L119 Hamel 105mm Field Gun, and the M198 155mm Howitzer. Options for replacing them include a mix of self-propelled artillery systems and lightweight towed artillery systems under an A$ 450-600 million project known as LAND 17. The project will also examine advanced high precision munitions and a networked command and fire control system.
So, how does this project fit into Australia’s larger defense plans? What’s the expected program timeline? And who are the declared and potential contenders? That matters even more now that the solicitation has been released. DID covers the program, and a number of the confirmed or likely competitors…
The LAND 17 Program
LAND 17 fits the combined arms group concept that forms part of the Hardened and Networked Army (HNA) initiative. It also fits with the requirements set out in Australia’s Defence 2000 White Paper, by supporting the ADF’s capacity to sustain a brigade deployed on operations for extended periods whilst maintaining at least a battalion group available for deployment elsewhere.
M-198 - a 155mm howitzer (photo : Defense Industry Daily)
The Minister’s release notes that once in service, the new artillery pieces will be used to re-equip units based in Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane and the Combined Arms Training Centre in Puckapunyal, Victoria. This translates into:
-8/12 Medium Regiment (M198 155mm, Palmerston near Darwin)
-4 Field Regiment (L119 105mm, Townsville)
-1 Field Regiment (L119 105mm, Enoggera Barracks near Brisbane)
Since all of the current contenders are 155mm systems, the 8/12’s M198 howitzers will likely be devolved to other units. Based on the Minister’s statement, all regular Australian Army units would then become standardized on 155mm artillery.
L-119 Hamel 105mm artillery (photo : AustralianArtilleryAssociation)
While no decisions have been made yet, one scenario for follow-on effects is that the 8/12 Medium Regiment’s M198 howitzers would transfer to reserve units. They would supply the single battery of 3 Field Regiment plus the two independent batteries of the former 6/13 Field Regiment, replacing their vintage M2A2 guns that predate the Vietnam War. This would leave the reserve units of 7 Field Regiment and 23 Field Regiment in New South Wales operating the L119 Hamels, as the only remaining 105mm artillery in the ADF.
The Australian Department of Defence has been working closely with industry and planned to release an open Request for Tender, to identify companies that can provide artillery systems with the level of capability sought. It was expected that a formal LAND 17 Request for Tender would be released in late 2006, with in-service delivery anticipated between 2011-2013. The formal tender was not released until September 2007, however.