Australia receives new 4x4 protected vehicles
Following the delivery of the final two of an initial run of 10 Thales Australia Hawkei 4x4 protected mobility light vehicles that were commissioned by the Australian Defence Force in mid-November 2016, the service will begin to receive first initial production vehicles from early 2017.
1100 vehicles and 1058 lightweight trailers were ordered by the Australian Department of Defence's Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) on 5 October 2015 for AUD1.3 billion to meet Australia's project LAND 121 Phase 4, thus enabling the gradual replacement of some unprotected wheeled vehicles of the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force. In December 2011, the Hawkei was selected as the preferred vehicle to meet this Phase's requirements.
The project's Stage 1 is now completed and was aimed for engineering and manufacturing development with a small run of vehicles manufactured to support testing and further development activity. Low-rate initial production will be carried out in 2017-2018 as part of Stage 2 with around 100 vehicles due for final testing and initial deliveries. Stage 3 will see full-rate production 2018-2022 of the remaining 1000 vehicles and 1058 trailers. Initial operating capability (IOC) will be achieved in 2019 and final operating capability (FOC) in 2021. First combat brigade equipped with Hawkei will be ready in 2019.
The fleet in being supplied in four-door configuration for command, reconnaissance and liaison missions and two-door configuration for utility role. It has been developed to provide an optimum balance of the requirements for survivability, mobility, payload, communications, usability and sustainability.
It offers gross vehicle mass of 10.4 t, length of 5.7 m, width of 2.4 m, height of 2.2 m, 1.7t maximum payload for four-door vehicle and 2t maximum payload for two-door vehicle, fording depth of 1.2m without preparation, cruising speed of 115 km/h and maximum range of 600 km.
At the centre of the vehicle is a blast protection package from Plasan, who supply the integral V-shaped monocoque hull, as well as the built-in integral computing system (ICS) designed and developed by Thales Australia that allows information from numerous systems to be presented on a common digital color touch-screen. Communications are provided by Thales Nederland SOTAS digital intercom and government furnished radios, which will be integrated into the vehicle’s ICS. Other main equipment includes Steyr Motors M16 SCI six-cylinder 3.2L turbocharged diesel engine fitted with Health and usage monitoring system (HUMS); ZF Friedrichshafen 8HP90S eight-speed automatic transmission; AxleTech International 3000 series fully independent suspension axle system; air conditioning system; fire suppression systems; weapon suite (5.56, 7.62 or 12.7mm machine gun or 40mm automatic grenade launcher); wire cutters; Michelin 365/80 R20 XZL tyres with central tyre inflation system (CTIS) and run-flat system; 24v electrical system; tactical lighting; stowage compartment; inline starter/generator; and recovery winch. The vehicle's battle management system (BMS) also unites with ICS.
The protection cell consists of advanced armoured kitted hull built to optimise survivability against a full range of blast and ballistic threats, blast protected seats, restraints and stowage to minimize crew impact during adverse events, integrated system designed to absorb and deflect blast energy and transparent and opaque armour for high level of kinetic threats. 1058 companion trailers with maximum 1500kg payload similar to LTT Cargo model from Shutt Industries of the US will be assembled by Thales Australia.
The Hawkei can be lifted by the country's CH-47F Chinook, C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules aircraft.
The Rafael Advanced Systems Mini-Samson remote-controlled weapon station is believed to have selected to fit an undisclosed number of vehicles, and modified version of MR550 protected ringmount from W & E Platt could be acquired.
Australian industry also plays a key role in the vehicle production, including RPC Technologies, Cablex, Albins Performance Transmissions, Able Industries Engineering and Quickstep Technologies.