Australian Army to Acquire New Amphibious Vehicles

By Australian Defence Business Review

The Commonwealth has announced it has released an invitation to register for the Australian Army’s LAND 8710 Phase 1 requirement to replace the LARC-V (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo – 5 tonne) amphibious vehicle and LCM-8 (Landing Craft Mechanised) landing vessel in service.

The ubiquitous LARC-V was designed in the 1950s and entered service with the Australian Army in the 1970s. With a boat-like hull, powerful diesel engine, and four-wheel drive, the LARC is capable of 50km/h on land and up to eight knots in the water. It can climb a 60 degree gradient, and has a range of up to 500km on land, or a sea range of 150km.

In Australian service, the LARCs have supported ADF operations in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, the evacuation of Mallacoota during the 2019/2020 bushfire emergency, and most recently in Operation Fiji Assist. It is ideally suited for shore-to-shore, ship-to-shore, and over-the-shore operations in littoral and riverine environments.

The 59 tonne LCM-8 was extensively operated by the US Army in Vietnam, and also entered service with the ADF in the 1970s. With a flat-bottomed hull, bow ramp, and a pair of powerful marine diesel engines, the LCM-8 can conduct ship-to-shore operations with loads of up to 50 tonnes at up to 12 knots. Australian LCM-8s have seen service in Bougainville, Timor-Leste, Iraq, and during the bushfires.

“These new vessels, introduced from 2026, will be larger, faster, and better protected to support ADF operations,” Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds said in a statement. “They will allow Defence to quickly and effectively deploy both domestically and to our near region, as well as remain engaged with regional security partners and support humanitarian assistance to our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Commonwealth has emphasised its desire to buy an Australian-designed and manufactured vehicles and vessels for LAND 8710 Phase 1, which is valued at up to $800 million.

“Australian industry involvement will be maximised throughout the design, construction and sustainment phases of this project,” Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price added. “By taking this approach, the Morrison Government is also encouraging potential export opportunities for Australian industry through the design and build of this new capability.”

Possible contenders for the LCM-8 replacement include an additional buy of Navantia’s LHD Landing Craft (LLC), 12 of which are in service with the RAN for use with the Canberra class LHDs, or the BMT Caiman landing craft as proposed in 2019, although both may struggle to meet the Commonwealth’s Australian industry capability (AIC) requirement.

This article was written by Andrew McLaughlin and published by ADBR on February 4, 2021.