The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia says his country’s forces are getting creative in how they use Australian-made Bushmasters as its Bendigo-based manufacturer, Thales, says it is working hard to secure export orders for both Bushmaster and Hawkei protected vehicles.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko has made representations to Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles requesting another 30 Bushmaster vehicles to bring the total to 90, 200 days after the war started between Ukraine and Russia.
Since 2007, the Australian arm of French defence contractor Thales has secured exports of more than 200 Bushmaster vehicles.
“The Bushmaster is currently in service with eight countries including Australia, the Netherlands, Fiji, Japan, Jamaica, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine,” a spokesperson said.
But the defence contractor is nearing the completion of its New Zealand contract, which is scheduled to be met by the end of this year.
Since April this year, Australia has delivered 40 of the 60 Bushmasters requested by Ukraine.Hundreds of Hawkeis are sitting out the front of Thales — why?
Speaking to ABC Statewide Drive on Monday, Mr Myroshnychenko said Ukraine’s armed forces were using the Bushmaster to drive back Russian forces from the Kharkiv region in north-eastern Ukraine.
“A lot of them are actually being used almost as infantry fighting vehicles – though they are not that – because we don’t have anything else,” he said.
Mr Myroshnychenko said Ukraine and its allies had to ensure a steady supply of weapons and ammunition.
“The only way how we can achieve peace is actually when we get rid of the Russians in Ukraine and then come to some sort of arrangement,” he said.
Hawkei light armored vehicles
The ambassador is also asking for 30 Hawkeis, also made by Thales, weeks after 29 jobs were cut at the Bendigo factory after a contract to build more than 1,000 of the vehicles ended.
The Hawkei is a light, armoured four-wheel drive weighing in at seven tonnes. The Bushmaster weighs 12.5 tonnes.
The Hawkeis are in testing mode and can often be seen on the streets of Bendigo, but Mr Myroshnychenko says he would like to see how they perform in the field.
“I believe it will really test them in Ukraine, provide valuable feedback and just make them better so that they can serve the Australian Defence Forces much more efficiently,” Mr Myroshnychenko said.
The Australian government is spending $1.3 billion on 1,100 Hawkeis from Thales to replace the army’s Land Rovers, but the rollout has been delayed because of brake issues.
The future of the Bushmaster, meanwhile, could be secured after the Australian Army unveiled its prototype of an electric variant in Adelaide last month.
Thales says the final Hawkei will come off the production line in June this year.
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