Originally published: Ipswich First

Ipswich is set to be a major player in the division of $270 billion in defence capability and infrastructure spending over the next decade.

Of the record $270 billion in defence spending announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, there will be a $3 billion investment over the coming decade into the redevelopment of defence facilities in Queensland including RAAF Base Amberley.

Local industry involvement in the delivery of these projects will be maximised through the Local Industry Capability Plan initiative.

This ensures that local suppliers, contractors and tradies have the opportunity to secure more of this work, creating more jobs for local communities in Queensland, like Ipswich.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said she will be doing everything possible to make sure no opportunities are missed for Ipswich residents.

“This will require a bipartisan approach from all levels of government and I will be doing my part to ensure this money flows into Ipswich manufacturing businesses and into the community,” Mayor Harding said.

“With significant defence force representation, an established and skilled workforce, an extensive industry network and capacity for growth and innovation, Ipswich is recognised as one of Australia’s primary defence regions.”

Defence identifies that the air domain is critical to situational awareness during peace time operations and rapid response in times of disaster or conflict.

The 2020 Force Structure Plan calls for a reshaped and reskilled Air Force workforce to deliver a fifth generation, networked force of crewed and un-crewed platforms with broad reach.

Over the next four years the Air Force will have a growth of 100 permanent workers growing the current Air Force to 14,638.

As RAAF Base Amberley is the largest Air Force base in Australia, it would be expected a significate portion of those will potentially be based in Ipswich.

As the substantial Army footprint continues to grow at RAAF Base Amberley, the scope to equip the land forces to meet challenges into the future, present an opportunity for new investments being made in strike weapons, watercraft, helicopters, information effects, logistics resilience and emerging robotics and autonomous systems.

These capabilities will increase the land force’s combat power allowing for a more competitive strategic land force.

 The acquisition contract for 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles involves an Australian Industry Capability commitment of $1.3 billion and further significant opportunities are expected in future phases.

Redbank’s Rheinmetall Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence will be at the head of the queue with their hand up for any contracts that involve defence and automotive technology.

After winning the $5.2 billion LAND 400 phase 2 tender in 2018, Rheinmetall has taken a major step toward securing a $10-$15 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 tender after being shortlisted by the Commonwealth to enter the next stage of the tender process.

Should Rheinmetall be successful for the LAND 400 Phase 3 tender, the outcome of which is expected in 2022, up to 400 Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles would be manufactured at the company’s new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Ipswich.

 There will also be opportunities to come with the $11 billion Future Autonomous Vehicles contract and potentially the $2 billion Heavy Trucks contract up for grabs over the next decade.

During the previous 12 months to March 2020, Defence has invested around $3 billion in Queensland including sustainment management of the KC-30 air-to-air refuelling capability which supports around 270 jobs.

New investment has been flagged for continued through-life upgrades including larger replacement fleet for the KC-30A air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

Mayor Harding said nearly 10 per cent of all employment in Ipswich is in the defence industry and associated supply chain and the defence industry generates over $1.41 billion (2017/18) in export value for the local economy.

“The Defence Ipswich Action Plan 2018-2023 recognises the importance of defence to the region’s economic and community prosperity,” Mayor Harding said.

“The plan is aligned to the Australian Government and Queensland Government defence commitments and provides an industry led regional plan to deliver on those advances.

“The City of Ipswich Defence Industry Advisory Committee has been established with representatives from Ipswich City Council, Queensland Government, the Australian Defence Force, industry and universities to drive defence collaboration and delivery.”

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