Austal, Birdon Target Construction of Landing Craft for Australian Army

Austal has also won $157.1M AUD contract for two additional Evolved Cape Class patrol boats
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 07:21 AM, November 23, 2023
  • 895
Austal, Birdon Target Construction of Landing Craft for Australian Army
Birdon’s LMV-M @Via media reports

Austal Limited advances its strategic shipbuilding partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia through a proposed pilot program under the Heads of Agreement, aiming to deliver the Birdon-designed Landing Craft (Medium) for the Australian Army as part of the LAND8710 project.

Birdon Group’s Littoral Maneuver Vessel-Medium (LMV-M) design will underpin the Army’s next-generation Landing Craft Medium (LCM), replacing the ageing Landing Craft Mechanized Mk 8 (LCM8).

The proposed Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement (SSA) designates Austal as the Commonwealth's strategic shipbuilder at Henderson, Western Australia. In collaboration with the Commonwealth, Austal will mature the design and actualize the construction of the Landing Craft (Medium) at Henderson. The success of this pilot project holds potential for further collaboration, including the construction of the Landing Craft (Heavy) capability, outlined in the broader framework of the SSA.

The LCH program, formerly known as Littoral Maneuver Vessel Heavy (LMV-H), is in the early stages of development, with final requirements yet to be released to industry. However, Minister Conroy anticipates delivering the LCH platform to the Army by 2028, rather than the mid-2030s.

This initiative aligns with the broader Defense Strategic Review, aiming to establish Henderson as a crucial hub for strategic shipbuilding. Additionally, the Commonwealth has ordered two Evolved Cape Class Patrol Boats, valued at $157 million, adding to the 18 vessels previously ordered by the CoA.

Birdon’s LCM design, at nearly 60 meters, stands out as the largest offering for the LCM-M program compared to Navantia’s 39m design. Birdon and Austal will build a total of 18 vessels to replace 15 LMC8s, equipping the Army’s new “Littoral Lift Groups” to be established in Brisbane, Cairns, and Darwin from next year. Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy anticipates the delivery of the first new LCM in 2026.

The Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats, based on the original 58-meter aluminum monohull design, include enhancements that extend the vessel's capability and the fleet. With a total crew capacity of 32 and enhanced quality-of-life provisions, these new vessels provide connectivity to the outside world, regardless of the operating environment.

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