Australia’s largest weapons fair opens amid fresh doubts over multi-billion-dollar army project

Growing uncertainty over the army’s most expensive procurement project on record will be in sharp focus as Australia’s largest weapons expo, Land Forces 22, begins in Brisbane on Tuesday.

The ABC can reveal a decision on the winning design for up to 450 new infantry fighting vehicles to replace the army’s 60-year-old armoured personnel carriers has again been delayed, raising renewed speculation the costly project could be scaled back or scrapped.

Last week, the army’s head of armoured vehicles Major General Jason Blain informed German and Korean companies vying for the LAND 400 Phase 3 contract, worth $18-$27 billion, that government consideration of the project was still not imminent.

Previously the Morrison government had stated a decision on the IFV project would be made in September, but now military insiders fear an announcement won’t be made until after Labor’s Defence Strategic Review is completed in March next year.

A spokesperson for Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy told the ABC, “We do not comment on cabinet processes”.

Liberal Senator David Van, who is attending the Land Forces Conference as a member of parliament’s Defence Committee, said he had hoped a decision on the winning design would already be announced.

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