South Korean company wins $7b defence contract

An Australian subsidiary of South Korea’s largest defence company Hanwha has been awarded a $7 billion dollar contact to build infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army.

The 129 Redback IVS will be manufactured in Victoria’s Geelong region, at the Hanwha Defence Australia’s Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence site which is being constructed at the Avalon Airport Industrial Precinct.

Hanwha beat out rival German company Rheinmetall Defence for the contract to deliver the vehicles as phase 3 of the LAND 400 program.

“We are excited for the next phase of this program that will see HDA and Australian industry deliver a world class IFV to the Australian Army,” Hanwha Defense Australia Managing Director Richard Cho said in a statement.

Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy MP and Army Chief Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart during the announcement for the Hanwha Defense Australia contract (Nicole Mankowski).

Changing strategic environment

The contract is part of a major transformation of the army in response to the changing strategic environment, Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy said, and represents one of the biggest capability acquisition projects in the army’s history.

The new infantry fighting vehicles will provide fire power and transport for soldiers, and protection during close combat. They will replace the M113 armoured personnel carriers that were acquired in 1964.

The vehicles will be delivered between early 2027 and late 2028, around the same time as the new HIMARS missile systems and Army Landing Craft.

“Defence will now enter negotiations with the preferred tenderer and return to Government for final approval before the contract is finalised,” Mr Conroy said.

Hanwha Corporation is South Korea’s largest defence company, operating in aerospace, fintech, mining and clean energy.

Hanwha Defense Australia was established in 2019 and is headquartered in Melbourne.

Victoria has also attracted major global companies like BAE Systems, Boeing, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin and Thales and the state hopes to position itself as a drawcard for high-value defence projects.

Hanwha’s presence in Geelong, along with Thales’ operations in Bendigo and Benalla, positions Victoria as unrivalled in the production of land system vehicles, the state government says.

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