Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly today welcomed Thales Australia’s on-time delivery of six Hawkei prototypes and one trailer prototype under the latest stage of Project LAND 121 Phase 4.
The prototypes delivered under Stage 2 of Project LAND 121 Phase 4 are designed to combine speed with safety for Australian soldiers on the battlefield.
Project LAND 121 Phase 4 is a $1.5 billion project that seeks to provide up to 1300 protected and unprotected light vehicles.
In December 2011, the Government announced that Thales Australia’s Hawkei had been selected as the preferred vehicle for development and testing under the Manufactured and Supported in Australia option of LAND 121 Phase 4.
In June 2012, the Government further announced that just over $38 million had been allocated for further development and testing of the Hawkei.
Under an agreement reached between Thales and the Australian Government, Thales was contracted to supply six prototype Hawkei vehicles for further testing and evaluation.
Today the project achieved a significant milestone with the delivery of the last two of the six Hawkei vehicles to the Monegeetta Proving Ground in Victoria.
Together with the four already delivered vehicles, the Hawkei command variants will be tested by the Defence Materiel Organisation’s Land Engineering Agency over the coming months.
The test program will also include communication system integration testing, reliability trials, survivability testing and user assessments.
The Hawkei is a mobile, light protected mobility vehicle which offers a high level of protection for personnel inside.
The new Hawkei prototypes are being manufactured at Thales’s facility in Bendigo, where Bushmasters have been produced since 2004.
These manufacturing capabilities, and the skills of the workforce, are an important national security capability.
As Bushmaster production winds down, development of the Hawkei may help to retain some of these critical skills in Bendigo.
Subject to ongoing good progress, a decision is expected in late 2013 on whether Defence intends to seek approval for Hawkei production. Final Government approval is expected between 2014/15 – 2015/16.
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