Austal Ships, Birdon Collaborate on Australian Defence Landing Craft-Medium Project

LC-M will be based on Birdon's Littoral Maneuver Vessel-Medium (LMV-M)
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  • 05:06 AM, December 12, 2023
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Austal Ships, Birdon Collaborate on Australian Defence Landing Craft-Medium Project
Birdon's Littoral Maneuver Vessel-Medium (LMV-M) @via open sources

Austal Ships Pty Limited (Austal) and Birdon Pty Limited (Birdon) have officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of defence shipbuilding capabilities in Western Australia for the Australian Department of Defence Landing Craft-Medium (LC-M) Project.

The MoU's formation began in late November with the announcement by Minister for Defence Industry, Hon. Pat Conroy, of a Heads of Agreement (HoA) to establish a Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement (SSA) between Austal and the Commonwealth. Austal was subsequently named the preferred vessel constructor, while Birdon secured the position of preferred designer for the LC-M Project.

Under the MoU, Austal and Birdon will collaborate to develop a costed proposal for the LC-M Project and explore additional opportunities within Defence shipbuilding. Austal's prior experience in effective collaboration with third-party vessel designers is expected to enhance the partnership's ability to deliver a capable and cost-effective LC-M program for the Army.

Birdon's Littoral Maneuver Vessel-Medium (LMV-M) design for the LCM-M program spans nearly 60 meters. In February of this year, construction began on a full-scale prototype at Echo Marine Group's (EMG) facilities.

Under the new contract, Birdon and Austal are tasked with constructing 18 vessels to replace the existing 15 LMC8s, destined for the Army's upcoming "Littoral Lift Groups" in Brisbane, Cairns, and Darwin from next year. Minister Pat Conroy expects the initial LCM delivery in 2026.

Birdon's LMV-M design will replace the aging LCM8, guided by the proposed Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement designating Austal as the strategic shipbuilder in Henderson, Western Australia. The success of this pilot project could lead to further collaboration, including the construction of the Landing Craft-Heavy capability within the broader SSA framework.

The LC-H program, formerly LMV-H, is in early development stages. While final requirements are pending release, Minister Conroy anticipates delivering the LC-H platform to the Army by 2028, ahead of the initially projected mid-2030s timeline.

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