GRAZ, AUSTRIA/MELBOURNE – German auto-maker Mercedes-Benz has delivered the first of 1200 specially made G-Wagon off-road vehicles to the Australian Army.
Almost one year to the day the Australian Defence Force (ADF) signed contracts for the supply of the vehicles, the first two prototype units were handed over at a ceremony held in Mercedes-Benz’s Austrian assembly plant, the facility where the vehicles are produced.
In attendance were Brigadier David O’Brien of the Australian Army, the Australian Ambassador to Austria His Excellency Ambassador Michael Potts, senior Mercedes-Benz executives and the General Manager of major Australian sub-contractor G.H. Varley.
The new purpose-built cross-country vehicles will replace the ADF’s existing tactical vehicle fleet, and their entry into Australia’s military is the result of a large-scale project by the ADF. Internally coded as ‘Land 121’ but more commonly referred to as ‘Project Overlander’, the transition updates all existing Australian military field vehicles and trailers with up-to-date modern versions. It is one of the ADF’s largest peace-time projects.
The contract will see the delivery of 1200 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon off-road models, supplied in a number of variants. These include two- and four-door station wagons in 4x4 configuration, 4x4 cab-chassis utility vehicles, and purpose-built 6x6 models in both single- and dual-cab chassis. It also includes a specialised 6x6 surveillance and reconnaissance version for use in northern Australia.
The ADF will test a range of prototype G-Wagon vehicles in 2010, with deliveries of production models to take place between 2011 and 2013.
Mercedes Benz 6x6 special for ADF (photo : Amus)
Mercedes-Benz has employed New South Wales-based engineering firm G.H. Varley to provide a range of transport modules that will be fitted to many of the G-Class vehicles. These will serve a range of functions, including ambulance, command post, personnel carriage and general cargo.
Yesterday’s vehicle handover marks an important milestone in Project Overlander, a vital undertaking which commenced several years ago. An exhaustive tender process culminated in the signing of the historic contract in October last year.
Mercedes-Benz has a long history of supporting the Australian Defence Forces with field vehicles. For example, LA911B fire tankers were put into service with the ADF in 1978 and the unmistakeable Unimog off-roader commenced service in 1981. More recently, Mercedes-Benz coaches, vans and heavy-duty Actros 8x8 trucks have joined the ADF’s ranks. The well-proven G-Wagon is the latest addition to this list, bringing with it a strong 30-year service record.
About the Mercedes-Benz G-Class
The famous Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon off-road vehicle was first unveiled in 1979 and was designed predominantly with heavy-duty off-road terrain in mind. Originally known as the G-Wagon, short for ‘geländewagen’, or ‘cross-country vehicle’, this iconic all-terrain wagon has, over the many years of its production life, been adapted to ever-changing customer requirements in the civilian and military worlds.
It boasted outstanding off-road capabilities right from the outset, but its all-terrain prowess has been continuously improved through the addition of cutting-edge electronic controls and powertrain technologies, proven in the toughest off-road applications.
Its exceptional performance off the beaten track, its excellent towing abilities and balanced handling characteristics have resulted in the G-Wagon enjoying an extraordinarily long production career, which now stands at 30 years.
(The Auto Channel)