Australia’s Hawkei protected mobility vehicle attains initial operational capability

The indigenously designed and manufactured 4×4 Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle – Light (PMV-L) has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 11 July.

Defence minister Peter Dutton said the A$2 billion project will see the new fleet of 1,100 Hawkei vehicles – produced by Thales Australia – and 1,058 companion trailers delivered to the Australian army and air force, noting that the new vehicles will offer improved mobility and provide a high level of protection against blast and ballistic threats.

“The Hawkei is expected to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2023 and is joining the existing Bushmaster and Protected Medium Heavy Capability trucks to create a suite of protected mobility vehicles,” said Dutton, adding that the 7-tonne vehicle will complement the in-service Bushmaster and protected medium heavy capability trucks to create a “suite of protected mobility vehicles”.

The new vehicles are being manufactured at the Thales Protected Vehicles facility in Bendigo, Victoria state and will replace the majority of the Australian Army’s Land Rover fleet in command, liaison, reconnaissance, and utility roles.

The DoD announced in September 2020 that full-rate production of the Hawkei would commence in mid-2021 following favourable results during comprehensive ballistic and blast testing. This is understood to be around 50 vehicles a month.

“Defence and Thales Australia have resolved a braking issue identified in late 2020, with a technical solution being rolled out across the Hawkei fleet,” said the DoD. “With appropriate controls in place, Defence has lifted the Hawkei’s operating restrictions, enabling the recommencement of full-rate production and rollout of the capability.”

Besides the braking defect, the Hawkei programme had also faced earlier delays stemming from reliability and design issues. Thales acquired distressed Hawkei engine manufacturer Steyr Motors after the Austria-based company entered receivership in February 2019, jeopardising the supply of engines to the project.

by Jr Ng