Australia signs $160m contract for 78 Bushmasters
The federal government will acquire 78 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles for the Australian Defence Force in a $160 million contract with Thales Australia.
The Bushmasters will be manufactured in Bendigo, Victoria, with the first delivery expected in 2024, according to a public statement made on 17 May.
The contract was signed at Thales Australia’s Bendigo facility with Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy and Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters in attendance.
The vehicles are designed to protect a nine-man infantry section and passengers from landmines and other explosive devices using a V-shaped hull. They also have an armoured shell against small arms fire, run flat tyre inserts, and a central tyre inflation system.
Bushmasters are traditionally armed with either a 12.7mm heavy machine gun or 40mm air-to-ground missile remote weapon station, with additional manned 7.62mm guns.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said Bushmasters are integral to Australia’s military capabilities in supporting security and stabilisation activities, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, both at home and abroad.
“I am delighted to be in Bendigo to announce this $160 million investment in regional Australia, securing more than 200 local defence industry jobs for the city,” he said.
“The iconic Bushmaster vehicle is supporting defence industry jobs in Australia, as well as saving lives in military operations around the world.
“The workforce at Thales Australia should be proud of the important contribution they make to providing a world-class capability for our soldiers and to strengthening Australia’s national security.”
Australia has previously gifted 90 Bushmasters to the government of Ukraine to use in the Russo-Ukraine War.
Thales Australia chief executive officer Jeff Connolly said the manufacture of new Bushmasters would directly support jobs at the Bendigo facility.
“This is a strategic industrial capability that is vital for the Australian Defence Force. Today’s contract signing is an important expression of support from the government, not just for the Bushmaster vehicle, but also for the manufacturing capability and Australian supply chain that produces and sustains the vehicles,” he said.
“Work will begin immediately on the new vehicles, with a mix of troop-carrying vehicles and Command vehicles to be manufactured over the next 18 months.
“More than 1,200 Bushmasters have already been manufactured at our Bendigo facility and as well as proving to be a life-saving vehicle for the Australian Army in operations in the Middle East, they have been exported to eight nations including the Netherlands, UK, Fiji, Jamaica, New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia.
“Bushmasters gifted to Ukraine by the Australian government are currently in service in Ukraine and providing a vital capability to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as they fight the illegal Russian invasion.
“In addition to our direct employment on site in Bendigo, the manufacture of protected vehicles supports around 360 jobs in our Australian supply chain with many suppliers across regional areas of Victoria and New South Wales.”
Thales Australia is a defence contractor based in Australia, and a subsidiary of French defence conglomerate Thales Group.