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Hanwha to establish armoured vehicle CoE in Geelong

Artist’s impression of a troop of Huntsman 155mm SPH with an armoured resupply vehicles. These will be made in Geelong. Photo: Hanwha Defense Australia

Hanwha Defense Australia will establish a 32,000m2 Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence at Geelong’s Avalon Airport. The new CoE is estimated to create a minimum of 300 jobs over the life of the $1 billion project, generating ongoing support opportunities for Australian industry until the late 2040s. It will also cement a key R&D relationship with nearby Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI).

Hanwha was contracted by Defence last December to deliver 30 self-propelled 155mm howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles under Project LAND8116 – Protected Mobile Fires. The hulls and turrets for these vehicles, collectively referred to as the Huntsman family of vehicles, will be manufactured by Tasmanian company Elphinstone. They are based very close on the Korean firm’s proven K9 howitzer and K10 armoured resupply vehicle.

The company is also one of two companies competing to equip the Australian Army with up to 450 tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) worth some $18-27 billion under Project Land 400 Ph.3. Defence down-selected Hanwha and Queensland-based Rheinmetall Defence Australia for this project in 2019. Defence is expected to announce a decision some time this calendar year with Initial Operational Capability scheduled for 2024-25.

Hanwha will build the new facility on a 20-hectare site at Avalon Airport. Design work is now in its final stages and five contractors have been shortlisted to build what is expected to become a sovereign asset in armoured vehicle design, manufacture and support. EX2 understands there is also an opportunity for Australian defence industry partners to co-locate on site to streamline the manufacturing process and maximise export opportunities for the Australian defence industry.

The new facility will include multiple assembly lines, a 1,500m test track, a deep-water test facility, and an obstacle course to test capability.

Geelong-based Deakin University has welcomed announcement of the new CoE. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Iain Martin said it would cement the University’s close connection with Hanwha, facilitating investment in local research expertise and the development of high-tech jobs.

Deakin University and Hanwha signed an MoU last year on an agreement to drive collaboration in modelling and simulation, machine learning applications and human performance.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Julie Owens, said Hanwha was one of the world’s elite corporations in the development of new smart systems and technologies and would strengthen Geelong as a national centre of advanced manufacturing.

Hanwha is already working closely with Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI), based at the Geelong Waurn Ponds campus.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Defence Technologies and IISRI Director Professor Saeid Nahavandi said the partnership helped the Institute to translate research and technology innovation in intelligent systems for community benefit.

“Our work is integral to many of Deakin’s education and research priorities, such as creating smarter technologies, building safe and secure communities and advancing society, culture and the economy,” he said.

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