The Australian government yesterday announced that it would purchase an additional 214 Bushmaster vehicles for the Australian Army from Thales Australia.
Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said the announcement was a tremendous expression of confidence in the vehicle, and in the ability of Australian industry to deliver life-saving capability to the Australian Defence Force.
“Bushmaster vehicles are proving their worth every day in Afghanistan under some of the harshest conditions imaginable. The vehicle’s life-saving design, off road mobility and reliability have made it a mainstay of Australian operations”, said Jenkins.
Australia’s Defence Minister Stephen Smith was quoted by AAP as saying the approval to purchase the extra vehicles will bring the army’s fleet to around 1 000. “That’s a very good thing because the Bushmaster has been a most effective piece of equipment and it’s saved lives in Afghanistan,” Smith said.
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.
More than 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.
In May last year the Australian government approved the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmaster to support operations in Afghanistan. The purchase provides for operational attrition. More than 30 Bushmasters have been damaged beyond repair in recent years and their replacement with a further 70 vehicles will support current and future operations.
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 monocoque hull. The hull will withstand the 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.
The 4×4 vehicle comes in a number of variants, including patrol, command, ambulance, assault pioneer, direct fire support weapons and mortar.