Australia Orders 143 More Mine-Resistant Bushmaster Vehicles
The Australian government has ordered another 143 Bushmaster mine-resistant vehicles under the existing LAND 116 Bushranger contract, adding to its existing force of 300. The A$ 99 million order (about $82.5 million) covers 5 variants based on existing build configurations, to be delivered no later than March 30, 2009. Designed by Australia’s ADI (now Thales) and Ireland’s Timoney Technologies, the Bushmaster IMV comes in 6 variants, including the standard troop transporter and: Ambulance, C2 (Command and Control), Combat engineering/Pioneer, Direct fire support, and Mortar carrier.
Bushmaster IMVs have served abroad since 2004 in East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Thales’ partner Oshkosh Truck submitted the Bushmaster as a larger CAT-II JERRV squad vehicle in the USA’s belated 2007 MRAP program. Surprisingly, its past testing by Australia, and history of successful performance in combat zones, have not led to any “low risk deployment” awards from the USMC beyond 2 test vehicles.
The new Australian vehicles are actually Bushmaster v1.1 models…
Darryl Page, Vice President, Land Systems at Thales Australia, says [PDF format]:
“A number of enhancements have been made to the vehicles based on feedback we have received from personnel on operations.. These enhancements will ensure the best protection and mobility for our troops.”
The other interesting thing about this order is its production arrangement, which leaves the door open to orders like the Netherlands’ emergency purchase in 2006 for its forces in Afghanistan:
“The new contract will address the requirements of the Australian Defence Force, while incorporating mechanisms that allow Thales Australia flexibility in build schedule. This will enable other potential small quantity export opportunities to be fulfilled from our existing production capacity.”
The vehicles will be built at Thales Australia’s facility in Bendigo, Victoria, which has approximately 400 employees.