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Holden’s Fishermans Bend factory to become military vehicle factory

By Chris Thompson, 02 Aug 2017 News

Military tank main

BAE Systems has announced it will set up a defence hub in the former GM engine plant

Multinational defence company BAE Systems has announced it will set up an engineering hub in Holden’s former engine manufacturing plant at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

As part of a Federal Government tender (which BAE is a contender for) called ‘LAND 400’ the contractor aims to build 225 new combat recon vehicles to replace the current fleet of light armoured vehicles used by the Australian military.

BAE Systems says the hub will be the biggest of its type in the country if it is successful in its bid, with the roughly $5 billion project estimated by the Victorian Government to create more than 2,000 manufacturing and supply chain jobs.

Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews Shaking Hands
"BAE Systems Australia has offered the AMV35 – Patria’s modern, agile, highly protected military-off-the-shelf Armoured Modular Vehicle integrated with the combat-proven E35 turret from BAE Systems Hägglunds," the company announced recently.

Other vehicles BAE has for offer are the BvS10 armoured articulated vehicle, which is adaptable as a combat or command support vehicle, and the CV90 tank, which BAE says has been deployed in “UN and NATO in missions across the globe”.

These are the two vehicles the company lists as its products for Australia, though its international repertoire of combat vehicles is dozens strong thanks to acquisitions of other defence businesses.

For example, it also manufactures the somewhat well-known Bradley tank after it bought US contractor United Defense in 2005.

If its plans go ahead, BAE says up to 1000 engineers will be designing and maintaining new defence systems for the Australian Defence Force from the Fishermans Bend plant, with over 200 people estimated to be employed for the building phase of the project.

Holdens Fisherman Bend PlantA simulation and test facility will also be included in the hub, with a servicing centre in place to keep vehicles maintained over their 30 year life-span.

The Victorian Government has backed BAE as a contender, while a German company would set up in Queensland with backing from the Queensland Government if it is successful.

Premier Daniel Andrews says the deal shows that vehicle manufacturing can live on in Australia, even if not for passenger cars.

“Victoria is the traditional home of vehicle manufacturing, and this project would create thousands of jobs at a time when our automotive sector is in transition.”

UPDATE: 3.20pm August 2nd

MOTOR has received information which contradicts BAE’s confirmation that the plant will go ahead. We have contacted the government to confirm details of this story which are now in contention, and will update the story accordingly.

UPDATE: 5.50pm August 2nd

The Federal Government has not yet announced its decision on which company will be awarded the tender to build 225 military vehicles for the Defence Force, however BAE systems has advised it is still keen to explore the viability of the project should it not be successful. Fishermans Bend is still set to become an engineering hub, and a Victorian Government spokesperson has told MOTOR that BAE is still likely to pursue a development there.