Today’s announcement of the two shortlisted bidders for the Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle segment of the multi-billion dollar LAND 400 project is no particular surprise. BAE Systems offered a well-proven Patria AMV35 8x8; Rheinmetall came in with another highly regarded vehicle, the Boxer CRV 8x8. Both are in series production and both offer mature solutions featuring high levels of crew protection.
The culling of companies from a competition is always painful – and today both General Dynamics Land Systems along with Elbit and their partner Singapore Technologies will be hurting. Only a few weeks ago, each shipped three of their vehicles to Australia for testing and now will face the expense of taking them back home having only just driven a few kilometres for media and public relations purposes. They will each be out of pocket to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with little or no chance of reimbursement – and they would be cursing the decision of the Government to delay the shortlisting decision until after the Federal Election.
BAE Systems Patria AMV35 8x8 (photo : Australian Defence)
It is too early to write definitively about the reasons for the elimination of two credible contenders as it will be at least a month before they are given their official debrief by the Department of Defence. Having said that, the vehicle being offered by Elbit – the Singapore Technologies ‘Terrex 2’ – does not appear to be in series production and that might have counted against it. The reasons for GDLS missing out with the LAV 6.0 and teamed with local power house Thales are more difficult to fathom. The Army always maintained that it would prefer to shortlist two rather than three bidders to make the task of the ultimate evaluation easier and perhaps GDLS were squeezed out because of that determination.
The competition that will now take place will be evenly matched with two strong contenders offering comprehensive local production packages, technology transfer and opportunities for re-export. The ultimate decision will be based on performance – with an emphasis on crew protection – as well as price and industry content.
It is perhaps significant that the only Ministerial release today has come from new Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, with nothing to be heard from Marise Payne. The actual names of the contenders are contained in a separate release from the Department. This might indicate that – in keeping with the new policy announced in the 2016 Defence White Paper – the quality and quantity of the Australian industry packages made in the final offers from BAE Systems and Rheinmetall will be the deciding factor.