SYDNEY — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Oct. 5 that Thales Australia will supply 1,100 4x4 Hawkei protected mobility vehicles (PMVs) and more than 1,000 trailers to the Australian Army in a AUS $1.3 billion (US $916 million) deal.

The vehicles will be acquired under Project Land 121 Phase 4, which evaluated the locally designed Hawkei against the US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

"The Hawkei will improve protection for soldiers and enable them to operate in high-risk areas. It is the only protected mobility vehicle in the ADF that can be transported by ADF helicopters," Turnbull said, during the announcement ceremony at the Army's proving ground at Monegeetta, northwest of Melbourne. "Under a $1.3 billion agreement, the vehicles will be manufactured at Thales Australia's production line in Bendigo, creating 170 jobs there and another 60 jobs in Victoria."

Thales Australia has been building has built the larger Bushmaster PMV at its Bendigo facility for Australia and export customers since 2004.

Turnbull said the Hawkei will incorporate a next-generation communications management system, which will be developed in Australia by Thales.

Pilot vehicle production will begin in 2016 and deliveries will start from late 2017. Full-rate production will begin in 2018.

"We are proud to have been chosen to deliver this next generation of protected vehicles to our armed forces, and we stand by them, ready to support and adapt it as their requirements evolve," Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said. "As we move into the manufacturing phase, we will now be able to consolidate the work already begun across the Thales group worldwide to ensure the export success of this impressive vehicle."


Nigel Pittaway is the Australia correspondent for Defense News.

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