In a very interesting development, Australia decided today to join the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. The announcement came from the lips of Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who was attending the country's Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane.
JLTV will take up where the current $3.1 billion Aussie vehicle program, Land 121, leaves off. Land 121 is replacing the Australian Defence Force’s 4,200 Land Rovers with "protected" light mobility vehicles. If BAE is picked for the next phase of the JLTV program, the Aussie decision could be a fine bopnus for them since BAE Systems Australia is supplying medium weight through heavy vehicles based on the FMTV trucks.
“Through the JLTV Program, Australia and the US will be devoting considerable resources to developing a light mobility vehicle with the best possible protection for our troops on operations,” Fitzgibbon said in a press release.
Australia won't make a final decision on whether to buy the JLTV until the systems have passed key development and testing milestones, scheduled for 2010.
The Aussies clearly expect some benefits to accrue from this decision. “Should the JLTV be selected, it is anticipated that there will be opportunities for Australian industry in the manufacturing of associated vehicle trailers and ongoing maintenance support for our fleet,” Fitzgibbon said.