The Thales Australia team has unveiled the design of its groundbreaking next generation Protected Mobility Vehicle for the Australian Army - the Hawkei.
Following the tradition of the Bushmaster, which is named after a deadly pit viper, the new addition is named after a stealthy species of Death Adder - Acanthophis hawkei - which is native to Australia. "Like its exceptionally venomous namesake, this vehicle packs a punch," said Chris Jenkins, Managing Director of Thales Australia.
"Mobile, versatile, and above all well protected, the Hawkei will provide unparalleled situational awareness, lethality and survivability for a vehicle its size. It incorporates high levels of blast and ballistic protection in a light, highly manoeuvrable and readily air transportable vehicle that has been engineered for peak performance. Hawkei ticks all the boxes for Defence's LAND 121 Phase 4 program to provide a light protected vehicle to replace the Army Land Rover fleet."
The Hawkei has been developed by Thales in Bendigo, Victoria - home of the Bushmaster. Drawing on both international and local expertise provided by Plasan, Boeing, PAC Group and numerous Australian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the vehicle's design incorporates world-leading innovative technologies.
Mr Jenkins said the Hawkei launch represented an exciting chapter in Australia's local defence capability.
"The Hawkei offers the ADF an Australian solution specifically tailored to unique Australian needs, but one that also meets the operational priorities of other nations such as the United Kingdom LPPV program, the Netherlands vehicle replacement program, and also the requirements of the US Marines.
"Following our extensive work on the Bushmaster, our team in Bendigo, coupled with our local and international partners, has the experience, the skills and the in-depth knowledge to meet ADF requirements now and well into the future.
"Hawkei is a next generation solution underpinned by battle proven experience from Bushmaster. We are confident the Hawkei will establish the new benchmark in Light Protected Vehicles, rendering obsolete the technology used in the competing vehicles. Our team possesses a unique in-country capability, with the capacity to manufacture and deliver the vehicle to the customer's requirements."
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Space, Defence, Security and Transportation markets. In 2008, the company generated revenues of 12.7 billion euros (equivalent of AUD22.1 billion) with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements.
Employing around 3,500 people in over 35 sites across the country, Thales Australia recorded revenues of more than AUD1 billion in 2008.
Thales's next generation Hawkei vehicle is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the Australian Defence Force and key export customers.
This new lightweight Protected Mobility Vehicle achieves high levels of blast and ballistic protection at a mass that allows increased levels of tactical and operational mobility. "In developing the Hawkei, we have taken the lessons learned building the highly successful Bushmaster and, in combination with our partners, applied that thinking and experience to the new vehicle," said Ian Irving, Thales Australia's Land & Joint Systems Division Vice President.
"Hawkei is a new, next generation vehicle representing a genuine advance in design and innovation. All of the technology building blocks are battle proven and validated through operations, and have now been incorporated into a low risk design representing the next generation of vehicle system."
The new ground-breaking design meets the ADF's performance and capability requirements, including systems that allow the Hawkei to become a fully integrated node on the network centric battlefield. The Hawkei is designed to accommodate the future system demands of adaptive campaigning, with C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) capabilities a fundamental part of its DNA.
A systems approach to vehicle protection includes high levels of mine blast protection integrated into the Hawkei's hull design, while its adaptable ballistic protection technology is designed to be easily removed for air transportation and then refitted by a two-person crew in less than 30 minutes without using specialised equipment. This innovative design allows the Hawkei to be operated in full protection configuration that can then be reconfigured and upgraded for specific mission threats.
The Hawkei also delivers significant manufacturing and through life support cost savings over current ADF platforms. Thales has worked closely with the PAC Group to design a flexible production capability, and with numerous SMEs to maximise value for money across the supply chain.
"Evidence from other Australian defence industry programs suggests that large vehicle fleets based on imported technologies have significantly raised through life support costs. This is not the case with the Hawkei, which efficiently uses existing through life support systems and performance-based contracting models," Mr Irving continued.
"The Hawkei program contributes to the retention of skilled competitive suppliers capable of supporting and repairing sophisticated equipment for the ADF. It also brings more Australian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into the support pipeline, generating an effective support system that an overseas-based solution simply could not match."