Thales, a global high-tech player, showcased its latest armoured vehicles at the International Armoured Vehicles Conference 2024. 

With a focus on the Hawkei, a versatile and scalable protective vehicle, Thales aims to demonstrate its commitment to advancing military technology within armoured vehicles.

Designed and developed in Bendigo, Australia, the Hawkei is a light, versatile, and C41 integrated vehicle. Offering protection, mobility, and payload alongside advanced mission system integration, it stands out as a force multiplier.

Jonathan Welch, Thales’ Capture Lead on armoured vehicles, expressed, “The great thing about Hawkei is that it is scalable in terms of protection,” emphasising its flexibility and ease of assembly globally, providing “fantastic flexibility and gross protection.”

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Welch further highlighted Hawkei’s utility: “It has fantastic utility, with the ability to off-port power, allowing 17 kilowatts to run command centres, offering tremendous flexibility in operational scenarios.”

Regarding global deployment, Welch stressed Hawkei’s adaptability, stating, “It can be used anywhere,” drawing parallels with the Bushmaster’s user community across nine nations and showcasing Hawkei’s potential global reach.

Some notable countries to use the Bushmaster include Australia, which awarded Thales a $160m (A$243m) contract to build new Bushmaster Protected Vehicles for the Australian Army last year. In a separate initiative, Australia committed 30 additional Bushmaster vehicles to support Ukraine in its conflict against Russia, with the total Bushmaster donation reaching 90. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand welcomed the Bushmaster and Indonesian soldiers completed training on Bushmasters, a gift from Australia.

Discussing real-world impact, Welch referred to the Bushmaster’s service history, stating, “Bushmaster has seen active service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, subject to over 120 explosive events without any reported fatalities.” He positioned the Bushmaster as a testament to the Hawkei’s potential success in diverse operational scenarios.

Thales Australia delivered the final two Hawkei-protected mobility vehicles to the only Hawkei customer in Australia in 2013. In July 2021, Hawkei achieved initial operational capability under Project Land 121 Phase 4, replacing the Australian Army’s Land Rovers. Thales Australia celebrated the production of the 1000th Hawkei in March 2022. Also in 2022, Australia introduced an electric Protected Military Vehicle (ePMV), colloquially known as the ‘electric Bushmaster,’ during the Chief of Army Symposium. 

Looking ahead, Welch discussed Thales’ vision for the future of armoured vehicles, mentioning key elements: electrically driven, optionally crewed, and systemically protected vehicles. He highlighted ongoing work with an electrically driven hybrid drive Bushmaster prototype, showcasing Thales’ dedication to future technologies in land mobility programmes.