The Australian Government has approved a funding of $15m to manufacture components of the next tranche of Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMVs) for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF).
In a joint press release with Australian Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the government's multi-million dollar spending on new parts was the next step in securing another Bushmaster contract for Thales.
The vehicles are currently being built at the Bendigo factory by Thales Australia, which is also the preferred manufacturer of the Hawkei vehicle, slated for production in 2016.
"In December 2011, the government announced that in order to retain critical skills in Bendigo the government would explore the purchase of additional Bushmaster vehicles. Today's announcement is the next step in that process," Smith added.
The order, expected to be awarded in late 2012, involves funding for the steel and hull components, axle and suspension systems, fire suppression systems, wheel rims, radiators, gun rings and drive shafts.
Additional components include seats, insulation, hydraulic system components, as well as engines and ancillaries.
Smith said the full approval to acquire additional Bushmasters will depend on Thales demonstrating an efficient, effective and innovative programme to maintain core protected vehicle manufacturing skills at Bendigo facility.
The Bushmaster PMV is a 4×4 armoured vehicle available in a range of variants including troop transport, ambulance, direct fire, mortar, engineer and command for application in combat and combat support roles.
Powered by Caterpillar 3126E ATAAC turbocharged engine, the vehicle is capable of carrying up to nine soldiers along with their equipment, fuel and supplies for three days, depending on the type of variant.
The vehicles have been providing Australian troops with mobility and protection, particularly against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan since 2005.
The government has also given approval for the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmaster vehicles to support the ADF operations in Afghanistan in May 2011.
Image: An Australian Army's Bushmaster PMV conducting mounted patrols in the Baluchi Valley in Afghanistan. Photo: ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office from Kabul, Afghanistan.