Australia will buy 78 Bushmaster protected vehicles for 160 million Australian dollars ($106 million) to replenish stockpiles sent to Ukraine for its war against Russia.
Signed at Thales’ facility in Bendigo, the agreement covers the delivery of the Bushmasters in troop carrier and command variants over the next 18 months.
“This is a strategic industrial capability that is vital for the Australian Defence Force,” Thales CEO Jeff Connolly said.
“Today’s contract signing is an important expression of support from the government, not just for the Bushmaster vehicle, but also for the manufacturing capability and Australian supply chain that produces and sustains the vehicles.”
Over 200 jobs have now been secured thanks to a $160m contract to extend the production of Bushmasters for our ADF
— Pat Conroy MP (@PatConroy1) May 17, 2023
Thales’ Bushmaster is a 4×4 wheeled vehicle designed with high levels of blast and ballistic protection, as well as “excellent” off-road mobility.
It can carry a maximum of 10 military personnel and up to four tons (4,000 kilograms/8,000 pounds) of payload.
The vehicle is also capable of traveling over 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour and has an operational range of 800 kilometers (497 miles).
The Bushmaster is armed with 5.56- and 7.62-millimeter machine guns to support combat missions.
According to Connolly, more than 1,200 Bushmasters have already been manufactured at the Bendigo facility and have proven to be a “life-saver” for the Australian Army, particularly in its operations in the Middle East.
Arrival in Ukraine
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, Canberra has provided the war-torn nation with 90 Bushmaster vehicles for troop transport.
Connolly said that the vehicles are now providing a vital capability to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as they counter Moscow’s troops.
Apart from the Bushmasters, Kyiv also wants the Australian Hawkei military vehicles produced by Thales.
“Our soldiers absolutely love Australian Bushmasters. But now they have a new crush: the Hawkei,” the Ukrainian defense ministry tweeted last month.
Australian defense industry minister Pat Conroy did not confirm whether or not his country would heed to the request, but his country is “focused on delivering what we’ve already committed.”