THE CHAL­LENGERS

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RE­NEE VIELLARIS

THEY are a hy­brid Star Wars- 007- type weapon, a killing ma­chine for one of the best armies in the world.

Lethal and jaw- drop­pingly ex­pen­sive, just 225 of the com­bat re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles for the De­fence Force will cost up to $ 5 bil­lion. The bat­tle for the bid is be­tween two tanks on wheels – Rhein­metall De­fence Aus­tralia’s Boxer and the BAE Sys­tems Aus­tralia Pa­tria.

Each have pros and cons but they can both fire 200 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion a minute, carry can­nons, ram through tough ter­rain and, with the pedal to the metal, they can reach 100km/ h.

It is un­der­stood the Boxer may be more ex­pen­sive but it is be­lieved to have the high­est level of pro­tec­tion and con­tain some hi- tech bells and whis­tles used by the Is­raeli Army.

Rhein­metall’s model can de­fend it­self by us­ing a pulse to blow up an in­com­ing mis­sile and it is mod­u­lar, mean­ing within 60 min­utes it can trans­form into an am­bu­lance. It also means if one of its mod­ules is dam­aged, it can be re­placed and re­turn to the bat­tle­field.

Both com­pa­nies have short­listed Queens­land and Vic­to­ria as their po­ten­tial base.

Rhein­metall man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Fletcher said Queens­land was well placed.

“Rhein­metall De­fence Aus­tralia an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary that it had short- listed Queens­land and Vic­to­ria as po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions for its Mil­i­tary Ve­hi­cle Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence af­ter re­ceiv­ing a first and fi­nal round of pro­pos­als from state gov­ern­ments to se­cure the project,’’ he said.

A BAE Sys­tems spokes­woman said it would draw on lo­cal sup­ply chains to help build the ve­hi­cle.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to re­view op­tions for the lo­ca­tion of the pro­gram should we be se­lected and sev­eral states are be­ing con­sid­ered,” she said.

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