The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has taken delivery of the final two Hawkei protected mobility vehicles (PMVs) from Thales Australia at Monegeetta Proving Ground in Victoria, Australia.
Delivery of two reconnaissance variants follows selection as the preferred vehicle for development and testing under the manufactured and supported in Australia (MSA) option of the Australian Defence Forces' (ADF) Project LAND 121 Phase 4 programme in December 2011.
Thales secured a contract for production and supply of six prototype Hawkei vehicles, including two command variants, two utility variants, two reconnaissance variants,as well as a trailer to the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) for user assessment trials at Monegeetta Proving Ground.
Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said the company has invested $30m in the Hawkei project, while a significant investment have also been made by the Australian industry into the development of the vehicles.
"They are backed by the expertise of our protected mobility engineering teams, and we are working closely with defence to support the testing and evaluation process," Jenkins added.
Scheduled to be carried out by DMOS's Land Engineering Agency throughout the year, the evaluation programme includes survivability testing, communications system integration testing, electro-magnetic interference / compatibility testing, reliability growth trials and user assessments.
Vehicles previously delivered by the company have completed approximately half of the planned 100,000km of testing scheduled for the evaluation period.
Manufactured at Thales's Bendigo facility in Victoria, Hawkei is 7t, 4×4 next-generation light mobility vehicle designed to safeguard soldiers against improvised explosive devices (IED) attacks and ballistic missiles in the battlefield.
Subject to successful testing, the Australian Department of Defence's (DoD) decision to seek approval for Hawkei production is expected in late-2013, while final government approval is currently scheduled for 2015.
Valued at $1.5bn, the Project LAND 121 Phase 4 seeks acquisition of up to 1,300 protected and unprotected light vehicles to help replace the army's Land Rover utility vehicle fleet.
Image: A Thales Hawkei prototype vehicle undergoing user trials at Puckapunyal in central Victoria, Australia. Photo: courtesy of Commonwealth of Australia.