The first of an advanced prototype Hawkei vehicle built at Thales is ready for testing.
The Light Protected Mobility Vehicle was officially handed over to the federal government this morning.
Making the announcement in Bendigo Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare said the prototype vehicle would now be subject to comprehensive testing, before a potential order for production that's worth more than $1.3 billion.
Thales will enter contract negotiations to supply up to 1300 Hawkeis to the Australian Defence Force.
Member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons said he was hopeful the locally-designed mobility vehicle would go into full production.
He said the Hawkei was currently the preferred choice to win the billion dollar contract.
"This is the first step in that process," he said.
"It could be the single biggest contract that Bendigo's ever seen."
Minister Jason Clare said the Hawkei is a life-saving vehicle that could be used by the defence force in Afghanistan.
"The Hawkei is the vehicle of the future," he said.
Government approval of the LAND 121 Phase 4 project is expected in 2015, subject to successful testing of the Hawkei.
Production work could potentially commence at Thales as early as 2016.