BENDIGO-BUILT armoured vehicles will play key roles in military plans unveiled by a defence force staring down the barrel of an uncertain world.
The Department of Defence's newly released structure plan fast-tracks sweeping changes as Australia tries to shape its own strategic environment, deter actions against Australia's interests and respond with credible military force when required.
"While the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are not yet clear, it has deeply altered the economic trajectory of the region and the world with implications for Australia's prosperity and security," the ADF said.
The wide-ranging plan includes a push to keep building Bushmaster troop movers and developing and testing smaller Hawkeis.
Both are made at Thales Australia's Bendigo factory and the Australian Defence Force sees them as vital in case the nation needs to respond to a domestic crisis, or in the wider region on humanitarian missions or what it refers to as "stability operations".
The plan also commits the ADF to enhancements on an "active protection system" for Bushmasters and Hawkeis, as well as for several other vehicles and landing craft.
Defence has also reaffirmed its commitment to upgrading all Bushmasters "to a common standard" after learning lessons about the vehicles while on deployments to Afghanistan and recent disaster relief operations.
The government plans to spend between $90 million and $1.4 billion on 1100 Hawkeis in the coming five years.
The trucks are being developed to replace a third of the ADF's Land Rovers.
Hawkais will be the only vehicles armoured to protect soldiers from blasts and still be light enough to be lifted by Chinook helicopters.
Hawkeis are among four Australian projects that Defence says could be exported.
"Defence will work with industry to ensure work is sequenced to manage peaks and troughs in demand, to harness as much as possible the benefits of steady-state work," the plan stated.
Thales Australia has been approached for comment.
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