Rheinmetall have won a €2.7bn ($2.9bn) contract with Germany to supply the Bundeswehr with 123 Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie vehicles, heavy weapon carriers for infantry that will replace the Wiesel tracked vehicle for direct tactical fire in support of infantry units, with significant elements of manufacturing to be conducted in Australia.

German budget committee approval was granted on 20 March, 2024, with delivery beginning in 2025. 

“In order to be able to provide the Army with the required combat vehicles as quickly as possible, we are integrating not only our German but also the Australian sites in our Rheinmetall network,”  said Armin Papperger, chairman of the executive board of Rheinmetall AG. 

The Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie is based on the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle, supplied to the Australian Defence Force as an 8×8 wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicle. It will form a core element of the German Army’s new “medium forces” category.

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As well as a multi-role guided missile system, the new vehicle will be equipped with the MK30-2 ABM automatic cannon that is also installed on the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle. 

“This would be one of the largest Australian defence exports in the country’s history and supports Rheinmetall’s goal to further develop the capabilities of the Australian defence industry and integrate it into the company’s global supply chains,” said John Abunassar, head of Rheinmetall’s vehicle systems division.

Australia’s most recent Defence Strategic Review (DSR), published April 2023, recommended the reduction of the Land Combat vehicle System (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) acquisition from 450 to 129 vehicles, amid other striking reductions in Land 400 program procurement.

In August 2023, Australia downselected Rheinmetall’s Lynx as a contender for the Infantry fighting vehicle in favour of Hanwha‘s tracked Redback vehicle.

German-Australian cooperation on the programme began in 2023, following visits between the two nations by government officials, with signed declarations laying the foundations for further contractual agreements. 

The integration of Australian sites into the production of the Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie would appear to accelerate delivery for the Bundeswehr while maximising efficiency of Rheinmetall resources in the country following the setbacks in demand.