Steel critical to defence upgrade

The use of Austube Mills’ C450PLUS steel in new medium and heavy trucks to be used by the ADF has delivered significant weight savings.

Thursday 12 April 2018
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Austube Mills has begun the supply of 320 tonnes of high-strength C450PLUS® steel for use in vehicles that will significantly boost Australia’s military capability. The supply of C450PLUS steel product will allow substantial weight savings for fuel and water modules being fabricated for use by a new fleet of Australian Defence Force (ADF) vehicles.

The multi-phase LAND 121 project is part of the ADF’s efforts to modernise its land forces. The project will deliver approximately 7500 high-capability vehicles capable of providing battlefield mobility and logistics support, together with trailers and modules. The new vehicles will replace the current fleet of Unimog, Mack and S-Liner trucks that have been in service since the early 1980s.

Phase 3B of the project involves the acquisition of approximately 2700 medium and heavy trucks, and 3000 modules, from contractor Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia (RMMVA). The Phase 3B fleet will include both protected (armoured) vehicles for use in high-threat environments and unprotected vehicles for use in low-level threat environments and in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations.

As part of the Army’s digitisation program, all of the trucks will be fitted to accommodate the ADF’s Battle Management System as well as a suite of military radios.

Haulmark Trailers (Australia) has been contracted to deliver and support approximately 1700 trailers.

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Arun Syam, Austube Mills Business Development Manager, acted as the technical link between Austube Mills and fabricator Holmwood Highgate in early discussions regarding the LAND 121 project. Those discussions involved him synthesising statistical data from the steel mill for Holmwood Highgate, advising on manufacturing Standards and highlighting value propositions for the mill product in the end application.

Arun said the LAND 121 project constitutes a major step in the ADF’s efforts to upgrade its land force capability.

“Holmwood Highgate did a significant amount of analysis (FEA) and mass calculations due to concerns about their structures possibly being too heavy – something to be avoided for such systems,” Arun said. “Working with Holmwood Highgate, Austube Mills was able to provide statistical manufacturing data on tolerances, strengths and impact properties to satisfy the project's rigorous requirements.

“Through the use of Austube Mills’ C450PLUS® RHS, Holmwood Highgate was able to save 200kg in mass per vehicle.”

The first Phase 3B vehicles and modules were delivered to the ADF in April 2016 with deliveries set to continue through to 2020.

Photo Credit: Rheinmetall press picture