The Australian Government has approved the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles to support Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations in Afghanistan. The purchase provides for operational attrition. 31 Bushmasters have been damaged beyond repair in recent years and their replacement with a further 70 vehicles will support current and future operations.
Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announced the purchase today, the Australian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement. It added that the Bushmaster has proven to be an effective combat vehicle, providing Australian troops with mobility and protection, including against Improvised Explosive Devices. “It has unquestionably saved lives in Afghanistan.”
Defence will also evaluate a range of enhancements to the Bushmaster vehicle to increase the level of protection it provides to ADF personnel. If these enhancements are viable they may be applied to the 101 vehicles.
The purchase of the Bushmasters is subject to the satisfactory negotiation of a contract with acceptable terms and conditions including in relation to performance, cost and schedule. Details of costs will be released on finalisation of contract details.
Under standing arrangements, Defence will be supplemented for the cost of Bushmasters damaged on operations, with the remainder to be funded from the Defence Capability Plan.
The Bushmaster is an Australia-built wheeled armoured vehicle that was selected by the Australian Army after trials in 1998. It was originally designed by the Irish company Timoney Technology Ltd under a licence agreement with Perry Engineering in Adelaide. This licence was then sold to Thales Australia. In addition, Oshkosh Truck has a contract to provide support and, if it the vehicle received an American order, the company would manufacture it.
Approximately 800 Bushmasters have been built for the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Netherlands Army and British Army. It has been used in the conflicts in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. Deliveries to the Australian Defence Force began in 2005 and up to 2009, a total of 737 vehicles were ordered.
Since it is only a relatively lightly armoured, mine-protected transport vehicle, the Bushmaster does not classify as an armoured personnel carrier; rather it is classed as an infantry mobility vehicle, with capacity for up to nine troops.
The Bushmaster was developed with South African assistance and features an obscured blast-resistant, v-shaped monoque hull. The hull will withstand blast from two TM-57 anti-tank mines (equivalent to 19kg of TNT) and has been tested extensively. The Bushmaster is a direct competitor to several South African MRAP designs.