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…
On May 24/07, Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Mr Peter Lindsay MP signed a statement reaffirming the importance of the Australian Department of Defence’s 2000 Enterprise License Agreement and relationship with Microsoft Corporation. The Australian DoD’s relationship with Microsoft also includes commercial and collaborative planning, research and development activities and premier support services.
Lindsay is quoted in the release saying that “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft provides the foundation for the modernisation of Defence’s information systems and business process reform.” At the ceremony, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “This agreement underscores how serious we are about working together to help protect Australia’s critical communication infrastructure.”
Microsoft is not generally known in the technology world for high security levels, though they have been investing R&D in a trusted computing initiative. The larger question among security experts is whether Microsoft’s vast resources will succeed in fixing an underlying operating system and application model that haven’t been designed from the outset for top-tier security. The US Defence Department recently issued a report on China’s activities in particular that highlighted the threat of cyber-warfare as a growing aspect of hostilities, and a growing concern.
Australia’s Rapid Prototyping, Development and Evaluation Program (RPDE or ‘Rapid’) commenced operations in February 2005. Drawing people, technology, facilities and contextual information from Defence and 83 industry participants of all sizes, ‘Rapid’ aims to accelerate new technology that can be useful to the ADF. Mostly, it’s about enhancement of existing capabilities rather than radical new breakthroughs, but those kinds of innovations can make a serious difference in the field – as the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force has shown.
The latest development expands the program participant pool by about 70% in its third year of operation…