Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare were in Bendigo today to thank local workers as the 800th Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle rolled off the production line.
Bushmasters have unquestionably saved lives in Afghanistan. The vehicles have proven to be very effective, providing Australian troops with mobility and protection, particularly against Improvised Explosive Devices.
Workers at the Thales factory in Bendigo have been producing Bushmaster vehicles for the Australian Defence Force, and export orders for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
In May, the Government announced the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmaster vehicles to support ADF operations in Afghanistan. The vehicles, together with associated support, are being purchased at a total cost of $133 million. This includes fitting Middle East Area of Operations protection kits and protected weapons stations.
It also includes funding to evaluate a range of enhancements to the Bushmaster vehicle to increase the level of protection it provides to ADF personnel. If these enhancements are viable they may be applied to the 101 vehicles.
The vehicles will be manufactured at the Bendigo factory and will be delivered over the next 18 months.
Ministers Smith and Clare paid tribute to the professionalism of the workers at the Bendigo factory, saying that their work was helping to save the lives of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Ministers also recognised that Australian workers around the country are also involved in the production of the Bushmasters. Iron ore mined from the Pilbara and coking coal from the Hunter is forged in Port Kembla and cut to size in Melbourne and delivered to Bendigo where it is welded together to produce Bushmaster vehicles.
The Bushmasters are produced in seven military variants – troop, command, mortar, assault pioneer, direct fire weapon, ambulance and air defence.
The V-shaped monocoque hull of the Bushmaster provides a high degree of protection against Improvised Explosive Devices, deflecting blast away from the vehicle and its occupants.