Three Australian led teams were downselected earlier this week to develop protected mobility vehicle prototypes, competing for the ‘Project Overlander’ Land 121 Phase 4, a procurement of about 1,300 of the next generation of light protected mobility vehicles, worth over A$1 billion. The vehicles will be provided to the Army’s combat units and Air Force’s Air Field Defence Guards and will be designed to operate in future conflict environments. “The protected mobility vehicles will play an important role in keeping Australian troops safe in combat roles, including command, liaison and light battlefield resupply.” Said Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Materiel and Science.
Each of the teams will be awarded a A$9 million contract for the development of these prototypes. The three teams are led by Thales Australia, Force protection Europe and General Dynamics Land Systems Australia. Force Protection has established a wholly owned local subsidiary in Australia. Thales Australia has facilities in Bendigo, Victoria. General Dynamics Land Systems Australia has facilities in the suburbs of Adelaide in South Australia.
Two of the vehicles proposed for the Australian programs are new designs – Force Protection is offering the Ocelot, currently downselected for the British MPPV program; Thales is offering the new Hawkei, designed in association with Israel’s armoring expert Plasan. The vehicle has recently completed more than 10,000 km of on-road and off-road testing, meeting all its performance benchmarks and exhibiting high levels of reliability. In parallel, the vehicle also passed mine blast, side blast and ballistic protection tests verifying the performance of the vehicle’s protection suite.
GDLS Australia is offering a version of the Eagle IV, a mature design which has already been selected by several European armies, including Germany and Denmark.
The Australian announcement follows a decision by the Government in 2008 to participate in the current US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program which is also working on the development of protected mobility vehicle prototypes.