Australian DoD, Australian Defence Force personnel will be better equipped to defeat enemy forces on the battlefield under a $35 million equipment package announced today by Defence Minister Robert Hill.

Senator Hill said the package will improve the fighting capability and safety of the Army's regular infantry battalions in future combat operations.

“Delivering on a Coalition election promise, our infantry soldiers will receive enhanced night fighting equipment, improved load carrying equipment, additional protective clothing, improved body armour and a significant increase in communications equipment,” Senator Hill said.

“Our Special Forces have already proved the effectiveness of some of these technologies during recent operations and the Government has decided to deliver some of the same equipment to the regular infantry battalions.”

The package, to be introduced from late 2005, is part of Army's Project Wundurra which is an evolutionary project that will continue to monitor emerging technologies and ensure our soldiers are equipped with the necessary capabilities for the future.

This equipment purchase is scheduled to be delivered within 18 months and will complement other Government initiatives to improve our soldiers capability on the battlefield.

Recent initiatives include the upgrade of 350 M113 tracked armoured vehicles, the delivery of new ASLAV wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicles, the introduction of the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicles, the purchase of Abrams tanks and the increase in Army's helicopter troop lift capability.

Senator Hill said that the Coalition Government has given the men and women of the ADF a long-term commitment to provide them with the necessary equipment and support they need to safely carry out the operations that are asked of them. This project is another example of this Government delivering on this commitment.