Thales Australia has received an A$1.3bn (€820m) contract to supply domestically manufactured Hawkei protected mobility vehicles (PMVs) to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Under the contract, the company will deliver 1,100 Hawkei blast-proof armoured vehicles, as well as more than 1,000 trailers to strengthen the ADF's fleet and improve protection for soldiers, while enabling them to operate in high-risk areas.
Claimed to be the ADF's only helicopters-transportable PMV, the Hawkei is also expected to pioneer a next-generation communications management system to be developed in Australia by Thales.
Awarded as part of phase four of Project LAND 121, the contract is anticipated to create 170 jobs at Thales' production line in Bendigo, and another 60 positions in Victoria, Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was quoted by The Australian as saying: "The Hawkei was chosen after a careful assessment of Australia's future transport needs, a competitive tender and a rigorous testing process including here at Monageetta.
"It was judged to have the best balance of protection, mobility and survivability."
Thales chairman and CEO Patrice Caine said: "Hawkei is a highly capable vehicle that will serve Australia for many years to come, and we are delighted that the Australian Department of Defence has recognised the importance of this vehicle by reaching this milestone.
"As we move into the manufacturing phase, we will now be able to consolidate the work already begun across the Thales group worldwide to ensure the export success of this impressive vehicle."
Developed by Thales in Bendigo, with the support of Boeing, PAC Group and Plasan, as well as a number of Australian small and medium-sized enterprises, the Hawkei is 7t, 4×4, next-generation, light-mobility vehicle designed to protect soldiers against improvised explosive devices and ballistic missiles.
Work under the three-and-a-half-year production phase is scheduled to start from mid-2017, with first deliveries anticipated later that year. Full-rate production of the Hawkei will commence in 2018.
Image: A Hawkei protected mobility vehicle undergoing water fording testing at an undisclosed location. Photo: courtesy of UNKNOWN / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.