Hawkei is a lightweight protected vehicle designed and developed to meet the requirements of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It is manufactured by Thales Australia for the Department of Defence’s Land 121 phase 4 programme that aims to replace the Australian Army’s Land Rovers.
The vehicle is named after a stealthy species of death adder, Acanthophis Hawkei, a native of Australia. Hawkei can accommodate six soldiers and is designed to be protected from blasting and ballistic threats.
The vehicle is developed as a next-generation light mobility vehicle. It was officially launched on 29 September 2009 and will replace unarmoured Land Rovers. The Hawkei can be airlifted by a C-130 Hercules transport or other standard cargo aircraft. It can travel at a maximum speed of 100km/h over a range of more than 1,000km.
Hawkei has been tested against improvised explosive devices (IED) to ensure that its design allows for maximum protection. Tests were conducted to gather the data and modernise the blast management system equipped in the vehicle. The first series of mine blast test on the Hawkei vehicle’s passenger compartment were completed on 26 November 2009.
Hawkei orders and deliveries
The forecast report of the ADF stated that orders for the Hawkei would not exceed more than 1,300 vehicles.
The first prototype vehicle was unveiled in November 2010 after completion of several blast tests. Thales delivered two prototypes of Hawkei to the ADF in February 2011 for verification and validation. Hawkei was selected as a preferred vehicle for the LAND 121 Phase 4 programme in December 2011.
Thales delivered six Hawkei vehicles and one trailer prototype to the Australian Army by June 2013. Testing of the vehicles was performed by the Defence Materiel Organisation’s Land Engineering Agency.
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 1,000 companion trailers to be delivered by the end of 2021.
Hawkei vehicle design
The light protected vehicle features a generic vehicle architecture (GVA), an open design approach of the UK Ministry of Defence for electronic and power architectures of modern defence vehicles. It can be used in support of a range of missions including air defence, reconnaissance, command, patrolling, logistics supply and liaison.
The vehicle is 5.78m-long, 2.4m-wide, and 2.3m-tall. It has a kerb weight of approximately 7,000kg and gross weight of more than 10,000kg. The model is available in a four-door and two-door variants.
The Hawkei design encompasses high levels of blast and ballistic protection. The vehicle is designed to incorporate the future system requirements of adaptive campaigning with C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) capabilities. It can be upgraded for specific missions. The integral V-shaped monocoque hull and blast absorption system provides objective level blast protection.
The next-generation protection vehicle’s hull is designed to protect the vehicle from blasts while incorporating high levels of tactical and operational mobility and allow easy conversion between variants. The vehicle’s adaptable ballistic protection technology is designed for air transport and is reconfigurable by a two-person crew in under half an hour without using specialised devices or equipment.
Armament carried by the light protected vehicle
A remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) is installed in the Hawkei vehicle. It is an automated control weapon station principally used for light and medium-calibre weapons. The RCWS can accommodate remote control weapons encompassing 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and 12.7mm machine guns, 40mm automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and observation pods.
The RCWS can accommodate weapons up to 12.7mm machine guns and is manufactured by Samson Technologies Corporation, US.
Hawkei engine and mobility
The Hawkei vehicle is powered by a 200kW (268hp) Steyr V6 diesel engine manufactured by Austrian firm Steyr Motors. The inline starter or generator offers sufficient level of electrical power to drive the C4I and mission equipment.
The twin-turbo engine is fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission system. The vehicle features a four-wheel drive and a an independent coil-type suspension. It has a central tyre inflation system with exceptional on and off-road performance in all types of road conditions.
Contractors involved Thales Australia is the prime contractor for the design and development of Australia’s Hawkei lightweight mobility vehicle. Boeing, Plasan Sasa and PAC Group are partners of Thales, supporting the Hawkei project.
Boeing Defence Australia provided integrated logistic support (ILS) to Thales during the design and development of the Hawkei vehicle. In August 2009, Boeing Defence Australia was awarded a contract by Thales Australia to offer ILS for its Hawkei protected mobility vehicle. The contract encompasses supporting Thales during the design and development phase of the Hawkei vehicle to ensure the vehicle lasts longer while saving costs. Armour solution provider Plasan Sasa is supporting Thales Australia to achieve the highest levels of protection in the Hawkei lightweight vehicle.
PAC Group has worked closely with Thales Australia to provide a flexible production capability.