An Australian SME has officially signed a contract with Thales Australia to build bonnets and other parts for the Hawkei protected Army vehicles.
As reported first by Defence Connect in August, Tasmania's Penguin Composites will replace advanced composites manufacturer Quickstep Holdings as the provider of the vehicle's bonnet, side skirts and mud guards. Quickstep cited "profitability and growth" as the reason for withdrawing from the project.
The three-year contract for Penguin Composites, worth over $8 million, represents the company’s first major defence-related contract, and is expected to create around 15 jobs at its facility at Penguin in north-west Tasmania.
The manufacture of prototype parts is already underway with production parts scheduled to be available from late December.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne congratulated Penguin Composites and said the contract would provide a significant boost to Tasmania’s share of the nation’s defence investment.
"This contract will not only create new jobs in Tasmania, it will also involve the up-skilling of existing personnel to help deliver this work," Minister Pyne said.
"This is a textbook example of how Australian small-to-medium enterprises are building their capabilities and contributing to our sovereign defence industry capability."
In October 2015, Thales Australia signed a $1.3 billion contract with Defence to supply 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and more than 1,000 trailers, and is now ramping up for low-rate production.
Founded in 1976, Penguin is a home-grown Tasmanian company specialising in the manufacture of composite products.
The company’s capabilities include design and engineering of moulds and plugs, fibreglass and composite component manufacturing, in addition to specialist composite product manufacturing.