Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Federal Government would spend more than $15.5 million to manufacture components of the next tranche of Bushmaster vehicles from Thales Australia’s Bendigo factory.
Bushmasters have saved Australian lives in Afghanistan. The vehicles have proven to be very effective, providing Australian troops with mobility and protection, particularly against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Thales Australia is currently manufacturing Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles at its factory in Bendigo. This manufacturing capability, and the skills of the workforce, is an important national security capability.
In December 2011, the Government announced that in order to retain critical skills in Bendigo the Government would explore the purchase of additional Bushmaster vehicles.
Today’s announcement is the next step in that process.
Full approval to acquire additional Bushmasters will be dependant on Thales demonstrating an efficient, effective and innovative program to maintain core protected vehicle manufacturing skills at Bendigo and in successfully meeting technical performance, cost and schedule commitments in the development of the new Hawkei vehicle.
The $15.5 million is for components of the Bushmaster which have long lead times for manufacturing, including:
- Steel and hull components;
- Axle and suspension systems;
- Fire suppression systems;
- Wheel rims;
- Gun rings;
- Drive shafts;
- Hydraulic system components; and
- Engines and ancillaries.
Further announcements about the purchase of more Bushmasters will be made in the coming months.
This announcement is in addition to the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmasters to support Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations in Afghanistan which was announced by the Government in May 2011.
Hawkei (LAND 121 Phase 4)
In December last year, the Federal Government announced that Thales Australia’s Hawkei vehicle had been selected as the preferred vehicle for the development and testing under Stage 2 of the Manufactured and Supported in Australia (MSA) option under LAND 121 Phase 4.
LAND 121 Phase 4 is a $1.5 billion project that seeks to provide up to 1,300 protected and unprotected light vehicles for the ADF.
Subject to successful testing of the vehicles, final Government approval of the Hawkei is expected in 2015, and production work could potentially commence in Australia as early as 2016.
Imagery available at the following link: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=11122432
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan (02) 6277 7290 or 0418 251 316
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999