Australia presses for more Bushmaster vehicles
The Australian Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, and Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, have announced that the Federal Government will spend more than $15.5 million to manufacture components of the next tranche of Bushmaster vehicles from Thales Australia’s Bendigo factory.
The Australian government announced in December 2011 that it would explore the purchase of additional Bushmaster vehicles in order to retain critical manufacturing and skills capabilities at the Thales Australia Bendigo factory. The retention of these capabilities are significant to Australia’s national security industry.
This latest announcement is the next step in the process to acquire additional Bushmasters. Full approval of the plan will be dependant on Thales demonstrating an efficient, effective and innovative programme 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. 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.
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; radiators; gun rings; drive shafts; seats; insulation; hydraulic system components; as well as engines and ancillaries.
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. Further announcements about the purchase of more Bushmasters will be made in the coming months.
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