The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Tuesday, in an article republished by The Australian Newspaper, that a list of countries were queuing up for the lucrative deal.
The Australian government, identified as the world’s sixth largest arms buyer in 2015 by the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, has been taking expressions of interest from overseas defence manufacturers since mid-2015 for the project known as LAND 400.
On Tuesday, a source close to one of the bids told the WSJ that the deal would bring Australia’s army into the 21st century, after the nation had been “battling on for 30 years with largely obsolescent vehicles that cannot survive on a modern battlefield or insurgency”.
Under LAND 400, Australia’s land-based defense force will upgrade 225 of its combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV), replacing some ageing versions first used in the Vietnam War.
Unlike the older models, these CRVs are capable of withstanding the blast of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In a media release from October last year, the Queensland government labelled the initiative the “largest, most expensive and most complex major capability equipment project” ever undertaken by the Australian army.
The WSJ source echoed those words stating that the deal was in the “top two or three” biggest defense contracts up for negotiation in the world, and would turn Australia’s light infantry into “one of the most potent small force in the world”.
Australia’s defense department refused on Tuesday to confirm the nationality of the bidders, citing confidentially clauses.
According to the WSJ report, Australia has put aside almost 200 billion U.S. dollars for defense contracts over the next few decades, with the LAND 400 contract and the 35-million-dollar upgrade of the nation’s submarine fleet its two most recent splurges. Enditem