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Minister for Defence announces enhancements to ADF's land forces.



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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 149/2008

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO ADF’S LAND FORCES

Opening the 10th Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane today, the Minister for Defence, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, has announced a range of enhancements that will upgrade the Australian Army’s operational capabilities.

“With ongoing land operations in Afghanistan by members of the Australian Defence Force, it is essential that we ensure that the Australian Defence Force has the best equipment possible for current and future operations,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“In particular, we must pay attention to providing the best protection possible to the soldiers we put into harm’s way by ensuring our vehicles take advantage of the most up-to-date protective technologies to ensure their survivability against modern-day threats.”

“I am pleased to announce that the Government has recently approved a $220 million upgrade of an additional 81 M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) to improve the protection, mobility and firepower of the Mechanised Infantry units of the Australian Army,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

The Minister also announced that the Government has given approval to commence planning for Phase 4 of the LAND 121 project, which will replace some of the Australian Defence Force’s 4,200 Land Rovers with a fleet of protected light mobility vehicles. In developing options for this project, Australia is intending to participate in the technology

demonstration phase of the United States’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Program. In parallel, Defence will also engage with industry to explore other options to provide protected light mobility vehicles.

Other enhancements to the Australian land forces announced include the signing of a contract with Thales Australia for an additional 293 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, and the delivery of Nary Special Operations Vehicles.

Following his opening address, Mr Fitzgibbon witnessed the signing of a $350 million contract with Mercedes-Benz to supply 1200 “G-Wagon” trucks to the ADF. These vehicles will be the first to be delivered under the LAND 121 project, which is progressively replacing the ADF’s vehicle fleet.

In opening the Land Warfare Conference, the Minister emphasised how equipment for the Army is rapidly becoming more complex, sophisticated and advanced, in line with other aspects of modern warfare.

“New threats, new tactics and new technologies will continue to evolve, and we as a Defence organisation need to use gatherings such as this to stay ahead of the game and ensure that the forces we field to meet the threats of the 21st century are the best trained, best equipped and best motivated troops on the modern battlefield,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664