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Australia signs preliminary agreement for shipbuilding with Austal

Australia's Birdon Group Pty Ltd has been selected as the preferred designer for the Landing Craft Medium capability. The above picture shows the design of Birdon's proposed Landing Craft Medium. (Birdon Group)

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has signed a Heads of Agreement (HOA) with shipbuilding company Austal Limited to establish a Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement (SSA) to manufacture ships in Henderson, Western Australia, the DoD said in a press release on 23 November.

According to the DoD, the HOA will set out the principles and framework for further discussions and negotiations to establish the SSA.

Austal said in a press release on 23 November that if the SSA is signed, the company will initially manufacture the Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M) capability designed by Birdon Group – which has been selected as the preferred designer for this project – in Henderson and deliver them to the Australian Army under Project Land 8710 Phase 1.

The army plans to procure 18 LMV-Ms to replace its ageing fleet of LCM-8 landing craft under the first phase of Project Land 8710.

According to the DoD, the government also seeks to develop the heavy landing craft capability – as a part of Project Land 8710 Phase 2 – through this strategic partnership, which is subject to the performance of the LMV-M project.

The second phase of Project Land 8710 aims to acquire an undisclosed number of 3,000–4,000 tonne heavy landing craft to replace the army's long-retired Balikpapan-class vessels.

In addition, the DoD has awarded Austal a contract worth AUD157.1 million (USD103 million) to procure two additional evolved Cape-class patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy, the DoD added in the press release.

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