The Australian Government has today confirmed that it has signed a deal to buy new infantry mobility vehicles for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
In a deal with French defence multinational Thales Group, the Australian government will purchase a total of 1100 Hawkei vehicles, and 1000 trailer units.
All up, this purchase is reported to cost around $A1.3bn ($920m).
As part of the deal, the vehicles will be produced locally by Thales Australia at its Bendigo plant, allowing for the creation of at least 170 jobs.
The Hawkei is classed as a ‘light protected infantry vehicle’ and is intended to replace the Land Rovers currently in use by the ADF.
Unlike these vehicles however, the Hawkei features substantial protection from small arms fire, and a V-shaped hull which mitigates damage from IED and land mine explosions.
Additionally, the vehicles can be armed with heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, and are light enough to be carried by a Chinook helicopter.
“It’s been designed with the future in mind so that as new technology becomes available it can be engineered into the vehicle to give our soldiers the best available tools in the most dangerous situations,” said Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne.
The Hawkei itself takes its name from a kind of venomous snake, which itself is named after former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Thales praised the deal, hoping it will represent a continuing relationship between their company and the Australian Government.
“Hawkei is a highly capable vehicle that will serve Australia for many years to come, and we are delighted that the Australian Department of Defence has recognised the importance of this vehicle by reaching this milestone,” said Patrice Caine, chairman and CEO of Thales in a statement.
Thales also produces the Bushmaster APC for the ADF at its Bendigo production facility.
According to the company the first Hawkei vehicles are expected to roll off this production line in late 2017.
Furthermore, the Australian government hopes that into the future they can find additional international buyers for this vehicle enabling continued production on site.