This is the first of two articles analysing LAND 400.

Part 1 reviews the development of the current fleet of armoured vehicles that, with the exception of the Abrams M1A1 which was bought “Lock Stock and Barrel” from the US Government, reports on a decade or more of local involvement in the M113, ASLAV and more recently the Bushmaster programs. The latter three programs underpin the armoured vehicle fleet in Army service today and shows the extensive involvement of the collective capabilities of Defence and Australian Industry. This expertise must surely provide a clear directive to the future conduct of LAND 400.

Part 2 will appear in next month’s APDR and is a review of the publicly known scope and slow progress of this project to date, which is fundamentally a replacement program for the current fleet of land vehicles and the inclusion of unmanned vehicles comprising UAVs and possibly UGVs.

Progress on the project is so slow that it demonstrates a failure mode and the fact that by the time products of this acquisition are fielded and are functioning as required, the retirement of the current fleet will be well in progress. The need for an overarching requirement is undeniable, but the extension of that requirement into a series of interlocking phases under a single contract and a single contractor is highly questionable. The introduction of an Integrated Project Team, or Teams, comprising Defence and Industry is considered more likely to result in a successful project. Defence desperately needs to break out of the destructive situations of failed contract performance as evidenced by HF Mod., Vigilaire and AEW&C, all undertaken by a single (and the same) contractor.

The Army’s Current AFV fleet

The present fleet is understood to comprise: 41 M1A1 Abrams MBTs and seven M88A2 Hercules M1A1 Repair and Recovery Vehicles; 350 M113AS3/AS4 tracked Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs); 257 8×8 wheeled ASLAV-25 Light Armoured Vehicles; and 697 4×4 wheeled Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMVs) for a total of 1352 vehicles, a number of which undoubtedly will be in the attrition category.

• Abrams M1A1 & M88A2:
According to US files, 18 M1A1s were delivered to Australia in September 2006 and the balance of 41 delivered in March 2007.
7 M88A2 – Hercules Repair and Recovery vehicles were delivered in May 2006.
The bulk of the fleet is located in Darwin.
The following points are noteworthy about this MBT.
M1A1 is fitted with a 1st Gen FLIR, with later production M1A1 vehicles fitted with a 2nd generation FLIR and also M1A2s through the System Enhancement Program (SEP). The SEP also addresses other fire control features. M1A1/A2 have a mass of 69.5t, a “stump jumper” ground clearance of just 480mm and a modest footprint of 15.4 psi. These figures point nicely to the fact that this tank was really designed for desert and savannah warfare and not warfare in jungle or hilly and rocky terrain. Operation in littoral warfare and urban warfare environments may also be limited due to the overall size of the vehicle and size limiting transport requirements by sea, land and air. Buying 7 Hercules vehicles was very sensible. Notable is the fact that the Army has modified the Abrams to run on diesel fuel rather that AVTUR to reduce fire risk. The logic of replacing the Abrams will be difficult to argue, unless the ADF selects a smaller, higher mobility, transportable MBT that has the required firepower, but is capable of operating in typical topographical conditions north of Australia.

● LAND 106 M113 Upgrade.
Land 106 is a 3-stage program.
• Stage1, completed in 2004, addressed development, the manufacture, testing and evaluation of two demonstration vehicles,
• Stage 2 was for the Design, construction and testing of a total of 14 initial production vehicles (IPV), including four APCs, two AFVs, and two ARVLs and their extensive evaluation completed before entering Stage 3. One ALVIPV was scheduled for testing to commence in 2009.
• Stage 3 is for the modification of 417 vehicles of defined variants, to their Production standard, and numbers of them. Logistic support requirements of the modified vehicles are also included in this Stage. This Stage is still in being with delivery of the initial capability of sixteen upgraded vehicles (14 APCs, one AF and one ARVL) to the 1st Brigade in Darwin completed in December 2007 and steady state production being reached.
The M113 is a smallish, highly mobile, tracked, vehicle capable of travelling on road, across country over rough terrain, and in jungle environments. It also has a limited amphibious capability. The M113 was introduced into Australian service in 1964 and was operated in Vietnam, Rwanda and East Timor.
Although its replacement was touted on several occasions, the Army has persisted with the vehicle and it has been extensively modified in Australia to meet changing roles through extensive modification and rebuilds to extend its LOT.
As originally built, the aluminium alloy hulled M113A1 had a mass of 10.5t and a road speed of 66kph powered by a GM V6 diesel. The crew varied between 2 and 10 depending on the role of the vehicle.
The M113 fleet comprises a total of 766 vehicles; of which 431 are AS3/4 versions and the balance are A1 versions. The presently scheduled expiry date of the AS3/4 vehicles is 2020.

M113 Variants

Variants to the baseline M113 have been prolific. LAND 106 was endorsed by Government in the 2000 Defence White Paper to provide a major upgrade of 350 of the Army’s in-service M113A1 vehicles. Approval to upgrade a further 81 vehicles was approved by Government in 2008, bringing the total to 431 vehicles to be upgraded to the M113AS series.

The objectives of Land 106 are to extend the LOT of this series and to provide significant enhancements in protection, lethality and mobility while also providing improved supportability.

Seven variants of the M113AS series are being produced. These are: Armoured Personnel Carrier (M113AS4 APC); Armoured Fitters (M113AS4 AF); Armoured Recovery Vehicle Light (M806AS4 ARVL); Armoured Ambulance (M113AS4 AA); Armoured Mortar (M125AS3 AM); Armoured Command Vehicle (M113AS4 ACV); and Armoured Logistic Vehicle (M113AS4 ALV Armoured Personal Carrier (APC). The APC can carry an infantry section and, when the rear ramp is lowered, passengers can enter or exit the vehicle quickly. In its class it is perhaps the most valuable APC used by the Army.

The enhancements are being achieved as follows:

Protection will be significantly enhanced with the addition of appliqué armour and spall curtains as well as a number of changes designed to enhance the vehicle’s mine protection. It must be noted, though, that The M113 has a flat bottom.

Lethality will be increased with the incorporation of a totally new electrically powered turret. The turret will be fitted with a quick-change barrel machine gun and a new day/night gun sight.

Mobility will be provided by a new engine, transmission, drive train and driver’s controls. To maximise the benefits of this new driveline the suspension, track and road wheels are also being replaced.

Supportability improvements include new electrical and fuel systems, improved habitability and a range of new stowage layouts to meet the diverse requirements of the numerous user units.

There is a further upgrade of the AS3, designated as AS4, with the two build standards and carrying capacity being differentiated by the overall length of each of the two vehicles. The AS3 variant has five road wheel stations per side and a recommended gross vehicle mass (RGVM) of 15000 kg. The AS4 variants have been stretched by 666 mm, with an additional road wheel station per side and a RGVM of 18 000 kg.


ASLAV is the Australian designation of the LAV-25 produced by GMDLS Canada with the original design being drawn from the MOWAG Piranha 8×8 AFV.
The ASLAV Acquisition Program has four phases, of which three are now complete

• Phase 1. 15 LAV-25s ex US Marine vehicles were purchased in 1990 by Defence to trial the Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicle concept in Northern Australia. The adoption of such a vehicle was supported, but some shortcomings for the Australian Army application were evident.

• Phase 2 , approved August 1991 and contracted to the “Canadian Commercial Corporation” (CCC) in December 1992 for 97 vehicles. The contract scope was increased to 111 to provide for the replacement of the 15 Ph. 1 vehicles. These vehicles were designated ASLAV. Also under this phase three hull types to provide the basis for seven variants were specified as follows:

• ASLAV Type I – a turreted vehicle with a 25mm stabilised cannon and thermal imaging weapon system. It is used for only one variant the ASLAV-25.

• ASLAV Type II – has greater internal capacity and no turret. Using a common hull design installed with unique Mission Role Installation Kits, it provides the Personnel Carrier, Command, Ambulance and Surveillance variants

• ASLAV Type III – allows for the installation of a crane for the Fitter (repair) variant or a heavy winch and support stands for the Recovery variant, again each with its own Mission Role Installation Kits.

• Phase 3- approved December 1997. 144 vehicles were ordered to give a total number of 257 vehicles. Ph.3. also included significant Australian content, an upgraded EOS, a new turret, improved suspension and crew airconditioning and was back-fitted to the Phase 2 vehicles. Turret equipment, not included in the Prime contract, included the “Behind Armour Commander’s Weapon Station (BACWS)” achieved through the purchase of a Remote Weapon Station (RMS) from Kongsberg through a series of acquisitions. By December 2005 all 59 Remote Weapon Stations had been delivered on schedule and installed in ASLAVs by August 2006.

The Multi-Spectral Surveillance System (MSSS), originally part of the Prime Contract, was purchased direct from DRS. It is a reconnaissance and surveillance package consisting of a laser rangefinder, thermal imager, and ground surveillance radar integrated with a stabilized common gimbal (SCG-100) and soldier machine interface provided by DRS. The MSSS is capable of three modes of operation: mounted on the vehicle, connected to the vehicle by a cable, and completely dismounted. The MSSS package will be designed as a kit for installation on the ASLAV-S.

• Phase 4 – Second Pass Government approval on 01 June 2010. It will address enhanced survivability, a half-life upgrade and standardisation of the ASLAV fleet. Possible survivability enhancements against current and future threats include:

• mine protection,

• ballistic protection,

• battlefield management system integration, (under LAND 25)

• signature management, or a defensive aids suite,

• manufacture of components and assemblies, storage and shipping containers, special tools and test equipment, consumables and other repair parts; and training and provision of technical documentation.

• Additionally, upgrading or replacing the power pack; and/or enhancing the Crew Procedural Trainer are included in Phase 4.

113 ASLAVS are presently scheduled for Phase 4 with delivery commencing April 2012.

It is notable that the Army has opted to maintain the ASLAV’s “swimming” capability and mobility. Retaining these capabilities requires close attention to the vehicles’ AUW and CG when any addition is proposed that changes the vehicles’ mass and balance characteristics beyond those approved by the Design Authority GMDLS Canada, particularly adding armour protection. This has resulted in ASLAVs being fitted, amongst other considerations, with a lightweight “cage’ designed to trap armour piercing munitions before they hit the hull and low mass spall liners.

● Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV)
“From an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan” seems to be an apt descriptor for the origin, development and end result of this vehicle. The Bushmaster concept was for a light, armoured, high mobility, vehicle to carry up to nine troops in air-conditioned comfort at more than 100 kph. Described by its detractors as a “battle limousine”, it was the first Australian-designed and developed combat vehicle developed in Australia since World War II.

Almost a decade after the project was conceived, none of the vehicles had been accepted into full service and the Senate was advised that, due to the poor wording of the contract, litigation against ADI Ltd was unlikely to succeed. But despite the contractual and reliability problems of the four Australian prototypes, the performance of the sole competing contender, the Taipan, was much worse and the Army pressed ahead with the then informally named Bushmaster.

At a critical stage of the program Thales bought ADI Ltd and inherited the Bushmaster woes. This action was perhaps the watershed in favour of the program.
Bushmaster production overview.

June 1999, the Government contracted ADI Ltd, then a wholly-owned Commonwealth-owned defence contractor, to build 370 vehicles. Thales acquired ADI Ltd shortly after this event.

July 2002, 300 Bushmaster IMVs in six variants: troop transport, ambulance, direct fire, mortar, engineer and command vehicle were ordered.

August 2004. First vehicles delivered to the Australian Army. Vehicles were operationally deployed to Iraq in April 2005 and Afghanistan in September 2005.

June 2006, first batch of 152 troop transport variants completed delivery. Delivery of the command variant was in progress.

December 2006, the Australian Army ordered a further 143 vehicles,

August 2007, the Australian Army ordered a further 250 vehicles,

2008. First contract deliverables completed and in October 2008, the Australian Army ordered a further 293 vehicles and the 500th Bushmaster vehicle was also completed at that date.

The total procurement for Australia was 737 vehicles of defined build standards.

Overseas action

Bushmaster has been and is being widely marketed internationally and important , sales have been made. As yet no significant sales have been made to the USA, and it is unlikely that sales will be made due to a national long-standing reluctance of that nation to buy defence equipment of overseas origin.

The Nederlands ordered 25 vehicles in August 2006. Some of the vehicles were fitted with a remote-controlled weapon system and all vehicles were fitted with the Thales SOTAS M2 multimedia communication system. Deployed to Afghanistan in October 2006. In November 2007, five vehicles were ordered to replace vehicles damaged in Afghanistan. Further orders were made in June 2008, 13; August 2008, 18; January 2009, nine vehicles were ordered.

The British Army ordered 24 vehicles in May 2008, for urgent deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bushmaster technical details.


Driver, commander and 7 crew


Monocoque all-welded steel hull with integral armour protection.

The monocoque design allows a shaped hull to be incorporated that deflects the shock waves of landmine and IED explosions outwards and thus reduces the direct shockwave beneath the vehicle. Internal blast isolation is also provided for the crew. The monocoque design also allows optimisation of the structural integrity of a vehicle by combining a chassis function with a body function compared with a separate chassis and body.


4 x 4 wheeled, with tyre pressure control
Suspension and Drive
Double wishbone, (Timoney development) with 4-wheel independent drive
Caterpillar turbo-charged 6 cylinder, 224kw o/p @ 2400rpm
Power weight ratio:
Road Cruise Speed
Armour Protection
5.56mm and 7.62mm ball ammunition, landmine protection

Weapons Station

Typically, the US Army MIL 101 CROWS (Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station) to which can be installed a range of small calibre weapons. Station is stabilised and carries an EO system using day/night, IR cameras and LRF. Specified to be in service in 2008.

Air Transportation

C-130 Hercules


6,600mm, 7,020mm with spare wheel


Troop, Command, Assault Pioneer, Mortar, Direct Fire, Ambulance, Armoured Combat Support (LAND121 application), Fireking (commercial application for Forestry SAust) 15 – Thales development.

UK MOD “dual Cab” development to meet “Operational Utility Vehicle Systems Requirement (2009).

Part II looking at the future of LAND 400 will appear in the December / January edition of APDR.

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