The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has received three prototype test and evaluation vehicles each from Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia.

With the delivery of these six prototype vehicles, Australia’s LAND 400 Phase 3-Mounted Close Combat Capability programme has reached a new milestone.

It is the DoD’s A$15bn ($10.3bn) project with Rheinmetall and Hanwha as two shortlisted tenderers.

The programme is designed to equip the Australian Army with up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) and a Manoeuvre Support Vehicle capability comprising up to 17 vehicles.

Australia Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “These significant activities include Australian soldiers participating in user evaluation and testing, with a particular focus on the armour, firepower and mobility of the platforms.

“The Risk Mitigation Activity will undertake important analysis on each vehicle’s ability to integrate with other key ADF land, sea and air capabilities, including amphibious lift.

“The Infantry Fighting Vehicle will be a state-of-the-art tracked armoured vehicle, capable of carrying six soldiers in addition to a crew of three. These advanced vehicles will provide increased protection, mobility, and firepower for the ADF.”

As part of the two-year Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA), the Australian firms each delivered two vehicles for test and evaluation activities and one each for blast testing.

In October 2019, the Australian DoD signed contracts with Hanwha and Rheinmetall for the RMA phase of the LAND 400 Phase 3 programme.

The RMA will include ‘detailed testing and evaluation of the tendered vehicles’.

Reynolds added: “When delivered, the Infantry Fighting Vehicle will allow army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats as part of the joint force.

“The delivery of these vehicles is part of the Morrison government’s unprecedented $270bn investment over the next decade to upgrade the capability and potency of the ADF.”

Last November, Rheinmetall revealed the first Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the Land 400 Phase 3 programme.