Australian Defense Force to get amphibious capability upgrade

The Australian federal government has announced it will acquire new fleets of Australian-built amphibious vehicles and landing craft. It will invest up to $800 million to upgrade the ADF's amphibious vehicles and landing craft, as part of the Army Littoral Manoeuvre – Light project, LAND 8710 Phase 1 program.
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Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo - Vehicle (LARC-V) loaded with ADF equipment enters the water as the Army Amphibious Beach Team collects equipment from Manus Island on 2013-02-03 (Picture source: Australian MoD)

Two separate fleets are to be procured, with the watercraft designed to provide independent shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore, and over-the-shore capabilities to better manoeuvre and sustain the ADF in littoral and riverine environments. An Independent Landing Craft is also expected to be delivered to replace the Army’s existing LCM-8 vessels, which according to Defence, would present opportunities for Australian industry in the detailed design, build, maintenance and support elements of the project.

An amphibious vehicle is also set to be built to replace Army’s current U.S.-made LARC-V, offering opportunities for industry in the vehicle’s design, build, maintenance and through-life support phases. LARC-V (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo, 5-ton) is an aluminium-hulled amphibious cargo 4x4 vehicle capable of transporting 5 tons. It was developed in the United States during the 1950s, and is used in a variety of auxiliary roles to this day. In addition to the United States, LARC-Vs have been - and sometimes still are - used by military forces in Australia, Argentina, Portugal, Philippines, Singapore and Iceland. Approximately 968 were made. About 500 were destroyed, most by scuttling during the American withdrawal from South Vietnam. About 200 have been retained in U.S. military service. Roughly 100 are privately owned and mostly used for tourism.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the new capabilities would transport land forces with enhanced speed and protection : “Today’s announcement delivers on this government’s objectives, set out in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, to enhance the ADF’s amphibious capabilities, especially in Australia’s territorial waters and the near region”. “These new vessels, introduced from 2026, will be larger, faster, and better protected to support ADF operations.

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An Australian Army Lighter, Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC-V) lands with soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, during the amphibious assault at Fog Bay, in the Northern Territory, on 11 July during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 (Picture source: Ausralian MoD)