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Tuesday 13 December, 2005. The first major phase of a $3 billion investment in Army’s fleet of field vehicles has been released as a part of the Government’s Hardening and Networking the Army strategy, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

Senator Hill said three separate Requests for Tender (RFT) have been released today to replace a vital fleet of Army trucks, four-wheel drives, trailers and modules for Army’s high readiness units.

The investment is part of Project Overlander – the largest land project in the Defence Capability Plan worth a total of $3 billion.

This current phase is worth up to $600 million and includes replacing the existing high readiness fleet of about 1400 heavy and light vehicles, 1300 trailers and 1200 specialist modules. The next phase will replace the rest of Army’s vehicles, trailers and modules across Australia.

Senator Hill said Project Overlander is a key part of the Government’s Hardening and Networking the Army strategy that will be released in detail on Thursday in conjunction with the Defence Update 2005.

“As part of the initial project phase, a range of vehicles will be purchased for Army’s high readiness units, such as 3 Brigade, 5 Aviation Regiment, 10 Force Support Battalion located in Townsville and Sydney a well as RAAF units at Amberley,” Senator Hill said.

“Field vehicles and trailers are the backbone of the ADF’s land warfighting support, sustainment and deployment capability. The roles of this fleet are to transport personnel, combat supplies and, when necessary, evacuate casualties.
“These vehicles and trailers also serve as platforms and prime movers for weapons systems as well as command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and electronic warfare capabilities.

The tender for the medium and heavy vehicles and modules has been released to a shortlist of nine companies announced in March and an open tender has been released for the light range of vehicles and modules. Favourable consideration will be given to those companies who will assemble the vehicles in Australia.

The request for tender for the trailer segment will be restricted to Australian-based manufacturers, plus those vehicle suppliers capable of supplying a proprietary trailer. The request for tender is tailored to encourage the production of trailers in Australia.

“Our current fleet is ageing and is becoming more costly to maintain and upgrade. The vehicles will range from lightweight four-wheel drives to heavy trucks and prime movers with interchangeable modules to increase operational flexibility.

“This will be a significant opportunity for Australian industry to generate and sustain critical industry skills and infrastructure.

“Project Overlander is fulfilling a key commitment in the Government’s 2000 Defence White Paper and will ensure our soldiers are properly protected and well equipped to do their job,” Senator Hill said.

The RFT for all three fleet segments will close in May 2006 with detailed proposals presented to Government in 2007. The target date for delivery of the first of the vehicles is December 2009.

Each RFT will also require offers to be made on support of the fleet, and will seek an agreement to guarantee the whole of life acquisition and logistic support of the new fleet, potentially for the next 30 years.

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