BENDIGO-made Hawkei protected military vehicles have been deployed overseas for the first time as full production starts in Bendigo this year.
A number of the two and four-door vehicles were sent to Iraq this month to be assessed in an operational environment.
Federal Defence Minister Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne on Friday announced the successful deployment.
Minister Payne said the trial vehicles were sent to Iraq’s Taji Military Complex to test their sustainability overseas and their ability to deploy to and from an operational area.
“This will enable the army to learn how to best deploy this capability to an operational environment and ensure it is ready prior to full production in 2019,” she said.
“The Hawkei’s cutting-edge technology and design means it is able to withstand significant blast and ballistic threats, which will protect our soldiers from small arms fire and fragmentation.”
Minister Pyne said the Hawkei, which is designed, developed and manufactured by Thales, is a pioneering protected vehicle.
“The Hawkei showcases the capability, maturity and international competitiveness of Australian defence industry,” he said.
“This vehicle is an innovative piece of equipment which will enhance defence capability, in particular the safety of our deployed personnel.”
Poland and Indonesia have also been considering importing Thales Australia’s Bushmaster and Hawkei armoured vehicles.
Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said it was an exciting milestone for the Bendigo made and manufactured Hawkei
“The Thales factory in Bendigo is an Australian success story and an example of the ingenuity, dedication and talent of our local defence industry and its highly skilled workforce,” she said.
“This year will be a big one for the Bendigo Thales facility as manufacturing of the Hawkei for the ADF really ramps up. The prospect of Bendigo Thales expanding their workforce and employing more people is good news.”