Geelong business and government leaders have taken an initiative to bid for a $10 billion defence contract to build a fleet of more than 800 military combat vehicles.
The Geelong Advertiser reports that the contract to design, engineer, manufacture and maintain the vehicles would create 1,000 direct jobs and a further 3,000 indirect jobs in Geelong.
Funded by the Federal Government's Defence Capability Plan, the combat vehicle will be known as the Land 400 or L 400. The decision on where the vehicle will be made in April and manufacturing is due to start in 2018.
Geelong is being positioned as a suitable location for the project, given its history of car manufacturing. It is hoped that workers who are scheduled to lose their jobs when Ford closes its local manufacturing plant in 2016 would be able to secure work on the military project.
"The Land 400 Sentinel project is the world's largest armoured vehicle project, and Geelong is uniquely placed to be the manufacturing hub for the combat vehicle," Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons told the ABC.
"Geelong has advanced capability in all these disciplines – obviously we have considerable expertise in vehicle manufacture – at the same time Geelong is a national leader in advanced composite manufacturer, through Carbon Nexus, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Material Manufacturing at Deakin University."
South Australia, another state feeling the effects of the contraction in the auto manufacturing sector, is also expected to bid for the L 400 project. Holden will close its manufacturing plant in 2017 and the South Australian Government would like transform it into a military manufacturing and service hub.