Page 38 - Australian Defence Magazine Oct 2018
P. 38

G-Wagon sustainment
A tale of integration
Army puts all the G-Wagon variants through some tough conditions.
It’s been six years since G-Wagons began rolling out across the Army. 2016 saw the last of 2,146 vehicles delivered to Army to replace two-thirds of the Land Rover fleet under Land 121 Phase 3A (with the remainder to be replaced by Hawkei under Phase 4).
THE old Land Rovers are now frequently visible on streets around Australia as the fleet was sold off to the public.
The new G-Wagons (and the accompany- ing range of Haulmark trailers) have a tough job. Some have been deployed to Fiji for di- saster relief and to Hawaii on multi-nation- al exercises, whilst others (the surveillance and reconnaissance variants) negotiate the billabongs and deserts across Australia’s north in service with NORFORCE.
ADM caught up with Chris Holland, senior manager of special vehicles at Mer- cedes-Benz Australia-Pacific, to talk about the sustainment operations for Army’s new fleet and associated challenges.
“We have a long term 15-year support contract with the Commonwealth to sup- port the vehicles,” Holland said. “That contract provides a range of services – engi- neering, configuration management, main- tenance, and supply.”
The 15-year contract is augmented by three options to extend by seven years each. The fleet is serviced primarily by Mercedes’ commercial dealership network through- out Australia, from which Defence is able to source parts and know-how.
“We also use our dealer network to sup- port the Commonwealth, particularly in the remote parts of Australia to support the RFS units,” Holland said. “Medium-grade repair is normally conducted by the unit. That means everything up to engine trans- missions, axle assembly, major unit assem- bly or replacement.
“They’d draw an engine or an axle, re- place that, then send the part through the supply chain to us for an overhaul or repair. Those can also be done at our dealers.”
Vehicles requiring heavy-grade repairs – engine, axle, and transmission overhauls, or accident damage, for example – are sent to Mulgrave in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, home to the G-wagon support fleet. Diagnostic tools include a commercial off-the-shelf product called BOSCH, which
is used to support remote locations, and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) mandated diagnostic tool called Xentry, which is used in Defence workshops.
Those sustainment arrangements apply to all 10 G-Wagon variants: two carryalls (light and lightweight); panel van; canine; station wagon; command post mobile; am- bulance; line laying; surveillance and re- connaissance; and general maintenance.
Whilst there is a training program for local dealers involved in sustaining the G- Wagon fleet, Holland said that many of the parts are commercially available and do not require specialist knowledge.
“There is a training course for commercial dealers. But these are commercial vehicles. The same transmission engines and axle as- semblies are used in many other vehicles,” Holland said to ADM. “That means the main components are commercially available and our training system already caters for those.
“The new and unique parts are the De- fence-specific components, like the 24-volt charging system, for example. We run a G- wagon course for that.”
The overlap between Army’s G-wagons and commercial vehicles also means that the vehicle is mostly unclassified, keeping the sustainment process relatively simple in terms of security clearances.
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