At a conference in Canberra, Minister Payne confirmed that the next generation protected vehicles will be delivered as per the schedule.
Thales Australia is delivering the 'new generation of protected vehicles', which have been designed to be able to operate in an environment under threat from Improvised Explosive Devices, mines and ambushes.
Hawkei is a 7-tonne, 4x4 vehicle with a 3-tonne payload designed to meet the demanding requirements of land forces world-wide.
Hawkei is also highly effective across a diverse range of mission profiles including troop movement, command and control, electronic warfare, liaison, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The acquirement of the Hawkei vehicles is part of Phase 4 of a multi-phased project known as LAND 121.
LAND 121 aims to provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with current-generation, high-capability field vehicles, modules and trailers.
In October 2015, the Australian government entered into contract with Thales Australia for the acquisition and support of 1,100 Hawkei PMV-Ls and 1,058 companion trailers.
The contract is worth $1.3 billion and will see more than 1,100 blast-proof armoured vehicles built in Bendigo.
Thales Australia beat out various companies, including US defence giant General Dynamics Corp.
The Thales Hawkei vehicles provide a high level of protection for soldiers against blast and ballistic threats with significantly improved mobility that will enable them to operate in high-risk areas.
The Hawkei is the only protected mobility vehicle capable of being transported by ADF helicopters.
Hawkei will also pioneer a next-generation communications management system, the Integral Computing System, which will unify the vehicle's panoply of communications systems through a common interface.
The Hawkei acquisition contract has provided for a phased approach as development continues in the lead-up to the start of full rate production in 2018.
The stages of production are as follows:
Stage 1 – Engineering and Manufacturing Development (2015 – 2017): A small run of vehicles to support testing and further development.
Stage 2 – Low-Rate Initial Production (2017 – 2018): Around 100 vehicles for final testing and initial deliveries.
Stage 3 – Full-Rate Production (2018 – 2022): Production of the remaining 1,000 vehicles and 1,058 trailers.