After addressing a braking issue identified late last year, Defence has confirmed the protected mobility vehicles have been greenlighted for initial operating capability.
The delivery of Thales-built Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles under the Commonwealth government’s LAND 121 Phase 4 project has hit a new milestone, achieving initial operating capability (IOC) following an extensive test and evaluation process.
The $2 billion project will see 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and 1,058 companion trailers delivered to Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force units for use in command, liaison, utility and reconnaissance roles.
The vehicles have been specifically developed to meet the ADF’s requirements for survivability, mobility, payload, communications, usability and sustainability.
The 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), based in Townsville, received the first tranche of vehicles in April 2020, before use of the vehicles was suspended in December following a safety incident at the Puckapunyal Military Area, Victoria.
Defence reportedly identified a ‘braking issue’, which has now been resolved, with a technical solution rolled out across the Hawkei fleet.
Operating restrictions have been lifted, enabling the recommencement of the rollout of the capability.
The program is expected to reach full operational capability in 2023.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton welcomed the achievement of the new milestone.
“The new fleet of lighter vehicles, which will come with 1,058 trailers, will better protect ADF personnel from blast and ballistic threats,” he said.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price noted the program’s contribution to sovereign industrial capability objectives, supporting manufacturing in Victoria at the Thales Protected Vehicles facility in Bendigo.
“This project is an excellent example of Australian industry providing Defence capability to meet Australian requirements,” Minister Price said.
“Hawkei has been designed and built in Australia by Thales Australia, which supports Australian jobs and Australian service personnel.”
Production of the vehicles is expected to sustain 210 jobs in Bendigo, and 180 additional jobs as part of Thales' supply chain.
“The production and ongoing support of the Hawkei vehicle in Australia creates significant long-term opportunities for Australian industry, including the potential for export,” Minister Price added.
Thales Australia first secured the LAND 121 Phase 4 contract in October 2015.
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.