The following is derived from various wanderings, discussions, & tyre kicking, and covers an opinion on the forthcoming Land 400 Phase 3 Request for Tender, and is as per June 2018.
General: Phase 2 will significantly shape participation in Phase 3. Costs for the two bidders that weren’t short listed for the Risk Mitigation Activity (GDLS & Elbit Systems) ran into the tens of millions of dollars. Costs for the losing BAE bid could rightly be assessed as double that. Combined with Rheinmetall’s Phase 2-driven “perceived incumbency”, nobody wants to waste money to be a stalking horse on the Commonwealth’s behalf. There is a plausible risk that only Rheinmetall will bid.
Reorganisation of infantry sections: When Land 400 was conceived, Australian infantry sections consisted of two fire teams of four. This drove the initial “eight dismounts” requirement that has subsequently been relaxed. Now comprising three fire times of three, one of those teams will be the vehicle crew, the other two will dismount, for a total of six dismounts. Recent operational experience has highlighted the need for temporary attachment of specialist personnel, so a platform that has some spare seating could still count for it.
GFE Turrets: One possible tactic that the Commonwealth may seek to use is that of mandating that the Lance Turret, as used on the Phase 2 Boxer CRV, be used as Government Furnished Equipment (that is, purchased from Rheinmetall and provided to suitably configured hulls by competitors). This would simplify the turret training and offer spares commonality across both phases. Perceived savings for “buying in bulk” were (apparently) unable to be realised as Rheinmetall was reluctant to discount its turret. Costs aside, if an offerer has a GFE turret, who owns the systems integration risk? Who does the customer turn to solve potential issues between the turret and the hull when they, the customer, has mandated that particular turret? Commercially, this is a high risk proposition.
Unmanned turrets: Only GDLS offered an unmanned/remote turret for Phase 2, the Kongsberg MCT-30, as has been adopted in small numbers (81) by the US Army to meet an immediate operational need. A bias against unmanned turrets is unlikely to manifest itself in Phase 3 due to the likely presence of the PSM Puma IFV. Of course, that’ll likely to open the door to GDLS bidding the ASCOD fitted with Elbit’s optionally manned/unmanned MT-30 turret....should they decide to bid at all.
Likely bidders: This brings us to the inevitable list of potential bidders and their platforms.
BAE: Unlikely to bid. If they win SEA 5000, that may get them off the bench, as would a requirements set that looks a lot like CV90. In the event that they do bid, the CV90 Mk4 is the most likely platform.
GDLS: More likely to bid than BAE, but still waiting to see what the RFT looks like. (Tellingly?) Their ASCODs at Eurosatory we’re painted for upcoming European opportunities, not in the distinctive Australian disruptive pattern.
Rheinmetall: likely to offer the Lynx and maybe also the Puma. With the reorganisation of Australian infantry sections (see above) the eight dismounts of the KF41 version of the Lynx are less relevant. Still, the modularity of the KF41 demonstrated at Eurosatory 18 definitely left an impression.
PSM: As a JV between KMW & Rheinmetall, Puma may be offered separately (unlikely if the Boxer =\= ARTEC in Australia model is followed). In the event that it is offered separately, its high unit cost, without the associated modularity of Boxer, may be a disadvantage. Also, PSM has no experience with industrial partnerships in Australia: a significant disadvantage.
Hanwha Defense Systems: Korea has been a bit “off” Australian defence opportunities, largely due to the cack-handed way in which the cancellation of the K-9/AS-9 was handled in 2012. The AS-9 was viewed as a loss-leader, primarily as Australia has a reputation of being a discerning (aka difficult) customer. If Hanwha bids their K21, it’ll be interesting to watch.
Whilst no means exhaustive, the above outlines some less-obvious factors currently at play for the 450-vehicle opportunity that is Land 400 Phase 3.
There are some who believe that Infantry Fighting Vehicles, such as the CV90 or BMP, are an inherently flawed concept. These people contend that IFVs try to be both a tank and an armored personel carrier, and fail to effectively perform in either role. As a result, were a sustained high-intensity conflict to occur, they would fare poorly. To my uninformed eye, this argument appears to have some merit. However, I am curious to hear to opinions of those more knowledgable than myself (or heck, anyone with an opinion at all).