The Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Rick Burr today confirmed in Senate Estimates that the multi-billion dollar Howitzer Mobile Protected Fires Program – LAND 8116 – was on track, with a final decision on the tenderer due in the first quarter of 2021.

The Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds also praised Geelong’s capability to deliver this vital project for Army.

I was delighted to raise these important questions in Estimates today.

The Morrison Government is delivering two regiments of Howitzer vehicles (at least 30 vehicles) and 15 ammunition resupply vehicles to be built and maintained in Geelong. This is in incredible win for the Geelong region and Victoria. Hanwha Defence has been formally asked to tender for the project and has commenced investigating sites in Geelong to establish its operations.

LTGEN Burr said the project “is in good shape and is on track in accordance to the schedule in the election commitment.”

LTGEN Burr also spoke of the protected mobile fires’ impact on Australia’s defence capability, saying its benefit “is vast and is central to our to our combined arms fighting system.”

“As threats change, the need for greater firepower and protection for our Land Forces obviously increases.”

“This is a vital capability. There has been a gap for some time and this remediates that gap,” LTGEN Rick Burr said.

LTGEN Burr also stated that the Howitzer vehicles will provide Army with “greater range, greater protection and greater versatility to employ our forces” on the battlefield.

Minister Reynolds highlighted that the previous Labor Government had cancelled this project saying: “This is yet another capability program that either the Labor Party cancelled or didn’t proceed with and I am very proud to be part of a Government that is providing this capability for Army. We have the faith in the great city of Geelong and in Victoria to manufacture these capabilities.”

Major-General Andrew Bottrell, Head of the ADF’s Land Systems Division, also praised the Hawkei project, based in Bendigo, as another very important defence vehicle manufacturing project for Victoria.

On 2 September 2020, I was delighted to join Defence Minster Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Price to announce that the Hawkei protected vehicle would enter full-rate production after passing Defence’s comprehensive ballistic and blast testing, meeting Defence’s stringent requirements for protection.

Both projects are delivering many hundreds of new jobs and are a testament to the vehicle manufacturing skills and ingenuity of regional Victorians.

26 October 2020