The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) new fleet of Hawkei protected mobility vehicles – light (PMV-L) has achieved initial operational capability (IOC).
The PMV-L is being procured under the Project Land 121 Phase 4, which aims to replace the Australian Army’s Land Rovers.
The latest approval comes after the ADF and Thales Australia resolved a braking issue identified with the Hawkei protected mobility vehicle identified late last year.
Following this, operating restrictions have been lifted that allowed for the recommencement of full-rate production (FRP) and declaration of the IOC capability.
The vehicle will provide a high level of protection and enhanced mobility for soldiers to operate in complex environments.
In October 2015, the Australian Department of Defence signed a A$1.3bn ($980.41m) contract with Thales Australia to procure 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and more than 1,058 associated trailers.
Australia Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that the project would see the new fleet of 1,100 Hawkei vehicles rolled out to Australian army and airforce units.
Dutton said: “The Hawkei is expected to reach Full Operational Capability in 2023 and is joining the existing Bushmaster and Protected Medium Heavy Capability trucks to create a suite of protected mobility vehicles.
“The new fleet of lighter vehicles, which will come with 1,058 trailers, will better protect ADF personnel from blast and ballistic threats.”
Hawkei is a lightweight protected vehicle designed and developed to meet the requirements of the ADF.
Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said that the vehicles are manufactured at Thales’ facility in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.
Price added: “The production of the Hawkei is sustaining approximately 210 jobs in Thales’ workforce in Bendigo, creating about 35 more jobs as part of the support contract, and establishing around 180 additional jobs as part of Thales’ supply chain supporting production.
“The production and ongoing support of the Hawkei vehicle in Australia creates significant long-term opportunities for Australian industry, including the potential for export.”