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All vehicles, all electric: Australian Defence Force heading towards charged future

Federal government ministers Pat Conroy and Richard Marles. Photo: 3ME.

Federal government ministers have met with the domestic defence industry to discuss the future electrification of the Australian Defence Force’s vehicle fleet.

Federal government ministers have met with the domestic defence industry to discuss the future electrification of the Australian Defence Force’s vehicle fleet.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy, and federal member for the Hunter Dan Repacholi attended meetings with industry representatives on 20 May.

The transition to electric vehicles for the ADF is expected to be a critical priority and in keeping with the future of international defence equipment, according to the ministers.


Minister Marles, speaking at a doorstop interview in the Hunter Valley on 20 May, said the electrification of the entire ADF vehicle fleet, where possible, is being considered.

“The electrification of our vehicles is critically important; this is the way in which vehicles are going to operate into the future,” he said.

“There’s a lot more versatility that comes from being able to have electric vehicles. But as the broader economy decarbonise, we’re seeing that within defence industry, as well.

“What we’re going to be seeing is technologies develop in the broader economy, which makes them fundamentally important and sustainable in the context of defence technology, defence industry, or defence capability as well.

“The challenge of doing this in a defence context, is to make sure that they are sustainable, they have durability, but robust, robust in a conflict environment. And that’s what’s being developed here and what is so impressive about this technology.”

The Australian Defence Force has previously rolled out a Bushmaster electric protected mobility vehicle to support field training at Gallipoli Barracks in October last year. The Bushmaster vehicle prototype, which uses electric propulsion technology, was tasked with supporting members of the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment undertaking simulated medical treatment in Queensland.

During the training, the ePMV was able to demonstrate its power storage and supply capability, enabling medical staff to work forward a role-two emergency hospital in an area of operations.

The ePMV was previously unveiled during the Chief of Army Symposium 2022 before being trialled and tested in a variety of conditions and by different units to test technological limitations.

“We’ve got one prototype Bushmaster, which is electrified now. And that speaks to the possibility of how we can do this going forward,” Minister Marles said.

“We are very mindful that this is the direction that the world is heading in. And this is the direction that we need to see our fleets heading in as well.

“I would say this is the first step along a path that we’re going to have to walk in a very significant way. Obviously, it’s not just the Bushmaster, we will be looking at the possibilities of electrifying ultimately, all the kind of drive trains that we have, where it’s possible.

“How you move down the pathway of electrifying a fleet is something that we need to be examining. It’s why the research that’s being undertaken here, in combination with the Defence Science and Technology Group within Defence, is so important. And it really is groundbreaking, innovative companies like 3ME which are helping us walk into this future.”

The Deputy Prime Minister met with industry representatives and applauded domestic defence manufacturing being carried out on precision machinery, battery technology and manufacturing of autonomous sea vessels.

A 3ME Technology spokesperson said the clean energy company, which develops lithium-ion battery systems and electric vehicle technology, was honoured to host the federal government representatives.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude for their visit and the Australian government commitment to ‘A Future Made in Australia’.”

“Our conversation with Minister Marles was particularly enlightening, focusing on Australia’s first iconic electric Bushmaster which he drove in 2022 before it commenced extensive testing with the Army. We discussed how hybridisation can significantly enhance the capabilities of ADF vehicles, providing them with operational advantages such as greater mobility, stealth and range.

“We highlighted how our expertise and experience in the Australian underground mining sector has proven invaluable, with the arduous duty cycles, challenging environmental conditions and safety focus serving as an ideal proving ground for defence technology.”

Hybridisation of tactical vehicles could provide silent operation, reduced thermal and acoustic signatures, power distribution and enhanced performance benefits, according to the company.

“Our discussion delved into the challenges that Australian small and medium-sized enterprises face in competing and collaborating with large multinational corporations and global defence primes. We remained poised to support the ADF through primes or directly with life of type extension upgrades to Defence platforms in the future,” the spokesperson said.

Deputy PM Marles said 3ME Technology represents an example of how technology and industry can be made domestically in the future.

“They (3ME) are a local company that are working closely with government to modernise and provide our Defence Force with the equipment they need,” he said.

“Just one example is the work they have undertaken for the electrification of the bushmaster; a key army capability.

“Pat Conroy MP and I chatted to the team in Cardiff about the work they’re doing and the importance of an Australian defence industry.”

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