Australia readies for Hawkei development
The Australian government’s decision, announced 3 July 2012, to procure a further 214 Bushmaster vehicles for production at Thales Australia’s Bendigo facility will clear the way to begin developing Hawkei into a suitable vehicle for Project LAND 121 Phase 4.
The extra Bushmaster vehicle purchase will enable Thales Australia to retain the required critical skills until the Hawkei development programme begins.
LAND 121 Phase 4 is a $1.5 billion project to provide up to 1300 protected and unprotected light vehicles for Australian Army. Thales Australia’s Hawkei has 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’, the Australian Department of Defence (DOD) said.
Following exhaustive testing and assessment of the MSA participants, the DOD has ‘recommended the Hawkei vehicle as the most likely to meet the future capability and value for money requirements of the LAND 121 Phase 4 MSA option’.
The next stage of Phase 4 will include funding for further development and testing including the manufacture of prototype vehicles.
Subject to successful testing of the vehicles, final government approval of the LAND 121 Phase 4 project is expected in 2015, with production potentially commencing in Australia as early as 2016.
In addition to ongoing development of the Hawkei, the DOD continues to monitor progress of the United States’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme, which is another possible option for LAND 121 Phase 4. Australia has previously committed $43 million towards the technology development phase of the JLTV programme.
The JLTV programme is currently progressing towards the engineering and manufacturing development phase. Contract award and the formal commencement of the engineering and manufacturing development phase is expected in mid-2012. While the Australian DOD continues to monitor progress in the programme, no further contribution or commitment has been made by Australia to enter the next phase.
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