GDLS to maintain Aussie army vehicles

June 2, 2011 at 6:30 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, June 2 (UPI) -- General Dynamics Land Systems Australia has won a five-year contract to provide through-life support service to the Australian army's fleet of combat vehicles.

The $48 million contract is for maintenance of wheeled armored fighting vehicles, M1A1 Abrams tanks and M88A2 Hercules heavy recovery vehicles.

The contract, which includes a one-year phase-in period, is for spare parts, repairs, maintenance and engineering work when needed, GDLS Australia, a business unit of General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ontario, said in a statement.

In May 2010, GDLS Australia was named the preferred bidder for the contract -- then said to be worth around $107 million -- for the army's more than 300 light-armored vehicles, Abrams tanks and Hercules recovery trucks.

Gary Stewart, managing director of GDLS Australia, said the performance-based contract means Australian businesses will increase their own strategic capabilities to repair, maintain and upgrade the country's combat vehicle fleets rather than seeking foreign suppliers.

"The long-range focus of this program also presents the opportunity for Australian industry to participate in General Dynamics' global supply chain," Stewart said. "We look forward to engaging with Australian companies as part of our design, manufacturing and sustainment transfer initiatives for this contract and other programs."

General Dynamics has delivered around 15,000 military vehicles worldwide, which creates export opportunities for Australian industry, he said.

In February, GDLS Australia delivered two Eagle 4x4 light-protected vehicles to the army's Land Engineering Agency's heavy-vehicle proving ground at Monegeetta, north of Melbourne.

The vehicles are being evaluated as part of a proposal to build and support a domestically manufactured armored vehicle fleet as an alternative to importing vehicles.

The contract, called Land 121 Phase 4, is potentially worth more than $1.07 billion for the manufacture of the next-generation of protected mobility vehicles, Greg Combet, minister for Defense Materiel and Science, said at the time.

"Three Australian-based companies will be awarded up to $9 million each for the development of protected mobility vehicle prototypes, putting them in the running to land a manufacturing contract for up to 1,300 vehicles," Combet said.

A technology transfer program would be a part of any contract.

Other subsidiaries of GDLS Canada manufacture the Eagle in several countries for the nations' armies.

General Dynamics European Land Systems delivered 20 Eagle ambulance models to the German army's medical units in Feldkirchen/Niederbayern in March. The vehicles were developed, tested and manufactured over 14 months in close cooperation between General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag, General Dynamics European Land Systems-Germany and other German companies following an October 2009 contract award.

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