The Hawkei will be a key plank in the future of the Australian Defence Force, according to a white paper released by the federal government yesterday.
The white paper praises the Hawkei’s innovative design, which it says will provide improved protection for soldiers, as well as the vehicles advanced communications systems.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the $1.3 billion contract to produce 1100 Hawkei vehicles and 1000 trailers at Thales’ Bendigo plant in October last year. The contract is expected to directly sustain 170 jobs at the factory.
At the time Mr Turnbull said the seven-tonne Hawkei would protect the lives of defence personnel from roadside bombs.
"The reality is that IED's [roadside bombs] are a feature of the modern battlefield and regardless of the context in which the ADF is operating, that type of threat is almost certainly going to be there and these vehicles are able to operate in every terrain,” he said.
“It is a time of rapid change and whether you are responding to violent extremism or the increasing lethality of individuals on the battlefield and that is what the Hawkei is a response to, you need to be prepared to change and adapt to take on your opponents.”
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the Hawkei had strong export potential.
"It will be very attractive on the international market, so let's hope that as we move into effective production we can engage internationally on that as well," she said.
The big brother to the Hawkei, the Bendigo-built Bushmaster, is currently in service in the Netherlands and Britain and Thales global chief executive Patrice Caine said the Hawkei was already attracting overseas interest.
"We have already triggered many commercial pursuits, particularly in Europe and not only, to market this vehicle upstream, even before the signature of this contract," Mr Caine said.
Thales Australia chief executive officer Chris Jenkins said the company was proud to supply the defence force with the next generation of protected vehicles.
“This is a great day for the ADF and for Australian industry,” he said.