Defense Australia (HDA) and Contract Manager partner Conscia, an Australian veteran owned small business, have selected national construction group, Built for the design and construction of the Hanwha Armoured Vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE) next to Avalon Airport in Geelong.

Under the contract, Built will complete the final design work and then work with local companies to deliver the state of the art facility. Built has also been contracted by HDA and Conscia to use local Geelong companies where feasible, supporting the region to grow.

“The H-ACE will be a facility that demonstrates our commitment to Australia and the region,” said Richard Cho, Managing Director of Hanwha Defense Australia. “Hanwha appreciates the assistance of the Victorian State Government in setting up our new facility in Victoria, and we are also grateful to the City of Greater Geelong Council for their warm welcome of Hanwha into the community.”

“As a wholly Australian-owned business and one the country’s largest private companies, Built is proud to be selected by HDA and Conscia to construct the H-ACE facility which will deliver huge economic benefits and jobs for the local community,” said Brett Mason, Built Managing Director and CEO. “We’re excited to combine our local experience and relationships in Geelong, together with the specialist knowledge of our national Defence team to deliver a world-class manufacturing facility.”

“We are excited to continue our relationship with Hanwha through the delivery of the H-ACE,” Mr Brendan Bilston, Executive Director of Conscia added. “We look forward to working with Built to develop a true ecosystem of Australian owned companies delivering a successful project and supporting the future of sovereign manufacturing in Australia. Sovereign capability starts with the construction of specialist facilities such as the H-ACE.”

Construction of the specialist armoured vehicle manufacturing plant is scheduled to take 24 months to complete, with the build program to commence in Q4 this year. It is estimated that over 100 jobs will be created during construction of the facility, which will ultimately support a large, long-term set of advanced manufacturing jobs when completed. The 32,000 square metre facility will initially be focussed on the production of Hanwha’s AS9 self-propelled howitzer and AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply vehicles, but pre-planning has been conducted to allow for the rapid expansion of operations should Hanwha also win the Infantry Fighting Vehicle project. The first Huntsman vehicle is expected to roll off the H-ACE line by the end of 2026 under current planning.

In addition to the potential for multiple assembly lines, the plant will feature a 1,500 metre test track, an integrated training wing, a deep-water test facility and an obstacle course to ensure the Hanwha vehicles function as intended prior to delivery. Ample provision has been made for Hanwha’s Australian industry partners to co-locate on the new site as necessary to streamline the manufacturing process and add maximum versatility as Hanwha’s Australian interests expand.

“With Australia’s close proximity to Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become a critical and important secondary line of supply back to South Korea,” Cho said. “The Australian operation will also help Hanwha fulfil contracts in other parts of the world and deliver capacity to engage with Five Eyes nations.”

APDR Bulletin

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