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Old trucks retire to make way for modern defence technology

A newly delivered Rheinmetall MAN - HX77 vehicle in a bush setting near Wacol, Queensland.
A newly delivered Rheinmetall MAN - HX77 vehicle in a bush setting near Wacol, Queensland. Dean Whitling

WHILE the skies above RAAF Amberley regularly echo to the scream and whistle of jets, Ipswich residents are seeing another side to the upgrade of the ADF.

As part of the LAND 121 program, 7,500 new transport vehicles are due for delivery, with Amberley a key to the project.

While the high visibility aircraft, including C17 transports and F/A18 Super Hornets, are regularly seen in operations, the changeover in military vehicles is prompting an increase in driver training on Ipswich roads.

Under the LAND 121 project, the vehicle modernisation is seeing the long serving Unimog, Mack and S-Liner trucks retired.

Army soldiers are shown how to operate the Hiab crane on a new Rheinmetall MAN truck by Geoff Imber as part of the driver training course at Amberley.
Army soldiers are shown how to operate the Hiab crane on a new Rheinmetall MAN truck by Geoff Imber as part of the driver training course at Amberley. Corporal Max Bree

Deliveries of these trucks began in September, many coming from MAN Trucks, with Wacol-based Penske Commercial Vehicles group providing pre-delivery and spare parts support, eventually 2,707 medium and heavy duty trucks are to be delivered to the ADF.

Representing a significant upgrade in technologies over the previous models, with many of the older trucks purchased in the 1980s, Amberley and the nearby Greenbank Army base are now playing a key role in training personnel in their use.

A major difference is the number of 'protected' vehicles entering service, allowing trucks to operate in closer proximity to ground forces, without exposing operators to unnecessary risk.

While the exact nature of the vehicles protective systems is not being publicly released, the trucks do offer occupant protection against both ballistic, including projectile rounds and blast threats, such as mines and other explosive devices.

The new trucks also bring a module system for moving equipment and supplies quickly and effectively, with a truck-mounted crane used to lift modules on and off the trucks.

Australian Army soldiers are instructed in the use of the Hiab crane on a new Rheinmetall MAN truck as part of the first driver training course at RAAF Base Amberley in southern Queensland on 20 September 2016.
Australian Army soldiers are instructed in the use of the Hiab crane on a new Rheinmetall MAN truck as part of the first driver training course at RAAF Base Amberley in southern Queensland on 20 September 2016. Corporal Max Bree

Each module can be individually tailored to a specific need, from combat, resupply of food and ammunition for ground troops, to the rapid deployment of mobile command and even medical facilities.

Operators have been upgrading their skills at Amberley, including the loading and unloading of the transport modules, as well as general on-road driver training on Ipswich roads.

With Army units now stationed at Amberley, including construction squadrons, the ongoing revitalisation and upgrade of the base will see these units continue to operate from Ipswich.

Although the main role of Army construction units is to provide logistical and engineering support to units in the field, including building and maintaining temporary operating bases, they are also some of the first units deployed on humanitarian missions.

For this reason, being stationed at RAAF Base Amberley, in close proximity to the massive C17 cargo aircraft that can fly them around the globe on short notice, makes good operational sense.

Topics:  on the radar raaf base amberley



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