Australia selects future army landing craft design, orders more patrol boats

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has selected Birdon Group as preferred designer for the Project Land 8710 Phase 1 programme, which seeks to deliver 18 new 60 m-long Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel-Medium (LMV-M) crafts that will replace the Australian Army’s ageing Landing Craft Medium 8 (LCM 8) crafts from 2026.

Birdon’s LMV-M design will be manufactured under a Heads of Agreement (HOA) between the DoD and local shipbuilder Austal that aims to establish a Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement (SSA) to boost shipbuilding activity in Henderson, Western Australia, the DoD said in a 23 November announcement.

Austal noted in a separate announcement that the company will initially manufacture Birdon’s LMV-M crafts with an eye on informing DoD decision-making on Land 8710 Phase 2 – which seeks to build an undisclosed number of 3,000-4,000 tonne Landing Craft Heavys (LCHs) – which is contingent on the performance of the LMV-M effort.

At the same time, the DoD awarded Austal a A$157.1 million contract to build two additional evolved Cape-class patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The Austal-Birdon team was selected over the Australian Maritime Alliance (AMA) joint venture between Serco Australia and Civmec, which centred on Serco Australia’s Oboe LMV-M design that was refined to meet army requirements.

Under LAND 8710 Phase 1, the LMV-M crafts must be able to transport the army’s current and planned fleet of protected vehicles across various sea conditions and interoperate with the RAN’s Canberra-class landing helicopter docks (LHDs)as well as the Bay-class landing ship HMAS Choules.

by Jr Ng