Thales Australia and Rheinmetall Defence have signed a contract to manufacture critical weapon components for the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) new Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs).

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) is procuring 211 Boxer vehicles under the $4.03bn (A$5.2bn) LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability programme.

Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price noted that Thales would draw its expertise and local supplier base to assist with the production of the Boxer’s 30mm cannon components at its Lithgow facility.

Price said: “This contract is a great testament to the Morrison government’s commitment to strengthening Australia’s sovereign defence industrial capability and maximising opportunities for local business in defence manufacturing.

“Australian industry will play a vital role in the delivery of the Boxer vehicles.

“Rheinmetall will use suppliers across the country to design, build, assemble, test and support the Boxer vehicles for the army.

“We are backing Aussie businesses and supporting local jobs.”

To manufacture these components, Thales Australia’s Lithgow facility is getting the help of 16 current and new local small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers.

Thales said that nearly 50% of the work will be managed by these SME suppliers.

Once manufactured, the components will be assembled at Rheinmetall’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (COE) in Redbank, Queensland.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said: “Increasing Australia’s industrial capability will build Australia’s self-reliance and the capability of the broader Australian advanced manufacturing sector, which is vital to delivering a capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force.”

In June, Rheinmetall completed the delivery of the first 25 of 211 Boxer 8×8 CRVs for the Australian Army.

The CRVs will offer enhanced protection, firepower and mobility to the Australian Army and replace the existing Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs).