With the signature of a contract to the tune of 1.3 billion Australian Dollars (€817 million), the Australian Government confirms its decision to equip its defence forces with the Thales Hawkei.
Eric H. Biass
The contract, signed on 5 October, covers the delivery of some 1,100 vehicles and 1,000 trailers. It in fact is the logical consequence of Australia’s decision to opt for that vehicle in December 2014, although additional testing was required at the time before confirming the deal. The acquisition is part of the Land 121 Phase 4 project which saw the elimination of the other final contender, the Force Protection Ocelot from America.
In spite of its French brand name, and like its older and larger stablemate Bushmaster (originally ADI), the Hawkei will be built in Australia at Thales Australia’s Bendigo facilities. This ten-tonner was essentially built to Australian specifications and is armoured to Level 1, which is an area that saw Plasan Sasa’s involvement.
In its four-door version, the Hawkei seats 6. Suspension is of course independent in the four corners and the 10.4 tonnes (maximum weight) are displaced by a 268 hp M16 Steyr turbocharged V6 diesel engine through an 8-gear automatic gearbox. It has a maximum road speed of 110km/h and a range of 600km. The hatched roof of the air-conditioned cabin is ready to accommodate any gun up to 12.7mm or a 40 mm grenade launcher. In terms of vetronics, it was designed from the outset with an integrated, VGA-compliant layout.
The two-door version of the Hawkei accommodates a crew of three, but sports a longer rear flatbed loading surface.