A Dutch Army Bushmaster in 2008. This vehicle has been fitted with a remote weapons station.
|Type||4x4 MRAP Cat. II|
|Place of origin||Australia|
|In service||1998 – present|
|Used by||Australian Army|
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Netherlands Army
South Australian Forestry Corporation
|Wars||East Timor (1999–2009)|
War in Afghanistan
|Designer||Thales Australia (formerly ADI)|
|Manufacturer||Thales Australia (formerly ADI)|
|Produced||2004 – present|
|Variants||Command, ISTAR, Explosive Disposal, Troop Carrier, Utility|
|Weight||12,400 kg (27,337 lb) (kerb), |
15,000 kg (33,069 lb) (GVM)
|Crew||1 (driver), |
|Armor||Greater than STANAG 4569, Level 1. V-shaped monocoque hull|
|One forward main gun ring for a heavy crew served system|
|Two rear swing mounts|
|Engine||Caterpillar 3126E 7.2L six-cylinder diesel, turbocharged|
246 kW (330 hp) @ 2,200rpm
1,166 N·m (860 lb·ft) @ 1,440rpm
|Transmission||ZF 6HP502 ECOMAT G2 (six forward speeds, one reverse)|
|Suspension||Arvin Meritor 4000 series fully independent, progressive coil spring with upper control arm and lower wishbone|
|Ground clearance||1,340 mm (front overhang), |
1,950 mm (rear overhang),
40° (approach angle),
38° (departure angle),
36° (side slope),
457 mm (vertical obstacle),
1,200 mm (fording, unprepared)
|Fuel capacity||319 L (84 U.S. gal)|
|800 km (497 mi) (GVM)|
The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle or Infantry Mobility Vehicle is an Australian-built wheeled armoured vehicle. The Bushmaster is based on a design by Irish company Timoney Technology Ltd under a licence agreement with Perry Engineering in Adelaide; that licence was sold, with permission granted by Timoney as required by the licence terms, to Thales Australia. Once the Bushmaster was selected by the Australian Army after trials in 1998 to meet the Bushranger project requirements, the range of variants was developed further by Thales Australia in Bendigo. Oshkosh Truck has a contract to provide support and would manufacture in the US if there was an American order. The Bushmaster is currently in service with the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Army and British Army.
The role of the Bushmaster is to provide armoured transport, with infantry dismounting from the vehicle before going into action. As the Bushmaster is only lightly armoured, the term Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV) distinguishes it from a heavier wheeled or tracked armoured personnel carrier, such as the ASLAV and M113 also in Australian service. The design replaced some troop carrier variants of the Land Rover Perentie.
The Bushmaster is optimised for operations in northern Australia, and is capable of carrying up to 9 soldiers and their equipment, fuel and supplies for 3 days, depending on the type of variant. The vehicle is fitted with air conditioning and was once planned to have a cool water drinking system, but was omitted upon production due to cost constraints. After operational complaints the drinking water cooling system is being reconsidered for installation. The troop carrier variant of the Bushmaster is fitted with one gun ring. The forward gun ring can be fitted with a 5.56 mm or 7.62 mm machine gun. The two rear hatches each have a mounting boss to allow the attachment of a swing mount capable of holding a 5.56 mm machine gun (such as the F89 Minimi).
The Bushmaster is a mine protected vehicle and provides a high degree of protection against land mines, using its v-hull monocoque to deflect the blast away from the vehicle and its occupants. The vehicle's armour provides protection against small arms of up to 7.62 mm calibre.
Six Bushmaster variants are in production for the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force. These variants are:
- Troop variant
- Command variant
- Assault Pioneer variant
- Mortar variant
- Direct Fire Weapons variant
- Ambulance variant
The Troop variant being used by the Royal Australian Air Force originally differed from the Army variant in that it was fitted with 10 seats for infantry and a third weapon mount. All Troop variants are now fitted with 10 seats.
Thales Australia has developed a civilian fire fighting variant of the Bushmaster called the FireKing and a military cargo carrying variant called the Armoured Combat Support Vehicle (ACSV). This variant is currently being evaluated for service with the Australian Army under LAND 121 (Project Overlander), which will see the replacement of up to 2,000 vehicles and trailers.
According to the Australian National Audit Office, unit price for Bushmasters in 2000 differed slightly between variants, ranging from A$562,878 for the troop carrier variant and A$589,182 for the ambulance variant.
Bushmaster in Australian service
In keeping with the vehicle's role and capabilities, the Australian Army designates Bushmaster equipped infantry units as being motorised, and not mechanised. Following the vehicle's troubled development, a total of 299 Bushmasters were ordered by the Wheeled Manoeuvre Systems Program Office of the Defence Materiel Organisation for the Australian Defence Force (reduced from the 370 which were originally ordered). Bushmaster deliveries began in 2005 (three years later than was originally scheduled) and were scheduled to be completed in July 2007. Deliveries of the troop carrier variant (152 vehicles) were completed on 7 June 2006. Deliveries of the command variant were completed by mid-2006 followed by the delivery of the other variants.
In December 2006 the Australian Minister for Defence announced that the Australian Bushmaster order has been increased and over 400 vehicles will be delivered. This figure was confirmed as 443 vehicles in a subsequent press release. In August 2007 an additional 250 were ordered for a total ADF delivery of 696 vehicles of all configurations. This was further increased in October 2008 to 737 vehicles for the Australian Defence Force. On 12 May 2011 the Australian government announced the purchase of an additional 101 Bushmasters, in order to replace vehicles damaged on operations and to provide additional vehicles for training and operational use. A further order for 214 vehicles was announced in July 2012.
The South Australian Forestry Corporation (ForestrySA) has ordered 15 FireKings. Deliveries of the FireKing to ForestrySA were completed in November 2005.
Australian Defence Force units equipped with the Bushmaster
The Bushmaster is operated by the following Army units:
- B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment, (3 Brigade)
- 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (support elements only), (1 Brigade)
- 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (support elements only), (1 Brigade)
- 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, (7 Brigade)
- 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7 Brigade)
- 7th Combat Service Support Battalion, (7 Brigade)
- 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers (one squadron), (Army Reserve unit)
- Combat Arms Training Centre
- Army Logistic Training Centre
The Motorised Combat Wing of the Army's Combat Arms Training Centre provides initial training to Army and Air Force Bushmaster drivers. Maintenance training is provided by the Army Logistic Training Centre.
To date, Australia's Bushmasters have been deployed on five operations:
- Two prototypes were deployed to East Timor in 1999 for trials and VIP protection.
- Ten Bushmasters were deployed to Iraq with the Al Muthanna Task Group in May 2005. This force was later redesignated Overwatch Battle Group (West) and operated 19 Bushmasters from September 2006.
- A small number of Bushmasters have been attached to the Australian Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan since its re-deployment in September 2005.
- A Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment was equipped with Bushmasters during its role as the security response force for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
- The Reconstruction Task Force, later redesignated the Mentoring Task Force, which has been deployed in Afghanistan since August 2006 is also equipped with a large number of Bushmasters.
While a full independent assessment of how well the Bushmaster has performed on these deployments is not yet available, Australian Department of Defence press releases and the Army's service newspaper have stated that the vehicles have proven successful. The Bushmaster's high degree of crew and passenger comfort has apparently been particularly appreciated in Iraq.
In September 2006 the Australian Department of Defence announced that it was modifying its fleet of Bushmasters in response to criticisms from Australian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These criticisms include concerns that the Bushmaster's gunner is exposed to enemy fire and the absence of a drinking water cooling system. The modifications will include fitting a CROWS remote weapon system (RWS) to at least some Bushmasters and developing an improved water cooling system. The protected weapons stations were installed to vehicles deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in early 2007. The installation team comprised staff from Project Bushranger and the Army and was conducted in theatre.
On 17 March 2010, all five Australian soldiers from the 1st Mentoring Task Force who were occupying a Bushmaster were wounded, three of them seriously, when it was hit by a roadside bomb in the Chora Valley north of the main Australian base near Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan Province during a routine vehicle patrol. As of May 2011, 31 Bushmasters have been damaged beyond repair while serving with the Australian Army.
Thales Australia is currently marketing the Bushmaster for export. The Bushmaster has been trialled by the United Arab Emirates and exhibited in a number of trade exhibitions. The Bushmaster has been offered to Spain, and may also be offered to Iraq. To date, the Dutch Army and British Army have been the Bushmaster's only export customers.
Bushmaster in Dutch service
In July 2006 the Dutch Government announced an urgent purchase of 25 Bushmasters to equip Royal Netherlands Army units operating in Afghanistan. Due to the urgency of this purchase these vehicles were taken from Australian Army stocks. Additional Bushmasters will be built to replenish the Australian inventory. 23 Bushmasters were directly delivered to Dutch Army units in Afghanistan starting from 28 August. The remaining two vehicles were transported to The Netherlands to be used for training purposes. Twelve of the Bushmasters were fitted with a Thales SWARM remote weapon station before delivery.
9 July 2007, Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited was awarded a contract of A$5.8 million for the supply of remote weapon systems for use by the Netherlands army. The contract was awarded to EOS by Thales Australia for fitting to the Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles manufactured by Thales for the Netherlands army. The order entails 17 CROWS Remote Weapon Stations. It is expected that the first of these systems will be operational in theatre by August 2007.
On 20 September 2007, during an engagement with the Taliban a 20-year-old Dutch soldier was killed in action. His body was evacuated in a Bushmaster which was subsequently attacked with small arms, mortars and RPGs. The vehicle was struck several times but all soldiers in the Bushmaster survived and were unhurt. Since the vehicle was immobilized and still under attack, they were forced to abandon it. Since salvage was not possible the Bushmaster was later destroyed by a Dutch Apache helicopter. The troops were transported out of danger by a second Bushmaster IMV.
On 19 October 2007 during a fire-fight between a Dutch patrol and Taliban insurgents, a Bushmaster was hit by an improvised bomb. Although none of the passengers were hurt, the bomb damaged the front of the Bushmaster. The Bushmaster has been sent to Kamp Holland (the Dutch base) for repairs. The Netherlands has ordered additional Bushmasters on several occasions in 2007 and 2008. On 20 November 2007 the Dutch Defence Ministry announced that it would acquire an additional 10 vehicles to replace the two damaged and two destroyed vehicles and a Patria armoured vehicle which was also destroyed in Uruzgan. One vehicle will be sent to the Netherlands for training purposes, and the rest will go directly to Afghanistan. The Dutch ordered a further 13 Bushmasters in June 2008, taking their total order to 49 vehicles. At this time six Dutch Bushmasters had been destroyed in Afghanistan.
In January 2009, another batch of nine vehicles was ordered. These vehicles will be fitted with cameras, sensors and a grappler to find and destroy Improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A further 14 Bushmasters were ordered in June 2009. In August 2009, another 14 vehicles were ordered, bringing the total Dutch order to 86.
Bid for US sales
Thales has teamed with US truck manufacturer Oshkosh to market the Bushmaster in the United States. In late June 2007 it was prematurely reported that the United States military was close to placing an order for 1,500 vehicles as part of its MRAP program. This sale did not go ahead. The Bushmaster was officially removed from the MRAP contest on 7 August 2007.
The United Kingdom purchased 24 Bushmasters in May 2008. These vehicles were ordered by the United Kingdom Special Forces to provide Special Air Service units in Iraq with a MRAP vehicle suitable for use in urban areas. The Bushmasters sold to the UK were fitted with additional armour, electronics to counter IEDs and a .50 calibre machine gun mounted in a RWS.
In August 2008 it was reported that the Spanish Government was "showing strong interest in the Bushmaster".
In 2009 it was reported that the Bushmaster could compete for the VAB replacement program under the name of Broussard (Bushmaster in French). In this competition, the Bushmaster will be competing against a lightened version of Nexter's VBCI and the Renault AMC. There is a requirement for 2,300 vehicles.
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- Russians provide big fix Army News, 1 April 2010.
- "Bushmaster takes a ride". Department of Defence. 12 March 2010. http://www.defence.gov.au/op/afghanistan/gallery/2010/20100312/index.htm.
- Beefing up Security Air Force News, 13 July 2006.
- Limited, ADI. "Pursuit. Issue 66.". http://www.adi-limited.com/pdfs/ADI1457_ADI_Pursuit_66.pdf. [dead link]
- Defence Today, "Bushmaster selected for LAND 121", March 2010, p. 2.
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- Brian Robins and Gerard Ryle Beating about the Bushmaster in The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 May 2004.
- "Hand over of Bushmaster Vehicle to Defence". Press release. The Hon. Bruce Billson MP, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. 7 June 2006. http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/Billsontpl.cfm?CurrentId=5713.
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- "Contract Signed for Additional Bushmasters". The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Minister for Defence. 29 October 2008. http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/70tpl.cfm?CurrentId=8381. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "More vehicles on the way". Canberra: Australian Department of Defence. 26 May 2011. p. 16. http://www.defence.gov.au/news/armynews.
- "Australian Army orders additional Bushmasters from Thalesurl=http://www.army-technology.com/news/newsaustralian-army-orders-additional-bushmasters-thales".
- South Australian Minister for Forrests media release FireKing Fleet in Place for Fire Season 24 November 2005.
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- "Additional Troops for Operation Overwatch". Press release. The Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence. 4 September 2004. http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/49tpl.cfm?CurrentId=5977. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Photos of 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment during Operation Acolyte. Australian Department of Defence, 28 March 2006.
- Masters of the Desert Army News, 11 August 2005.
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- Soldier Feedback Makes Bushmasters Even Safer. Department of Defence media release. 1 September 2006.
- Defence Materiel Organisation - On Target April 2007
- "Five diggers wounded by roadside bomb". The Daily Telegraph. 17 March 2010. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/five-diggers-wounded-by-roadside-bomb/story-e6freuy9-1225842022363.
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- "Thales plantea la posibilidad de suministrar el blindado ligero Bushmaster mediante el alquiler de su uso". Infodefensa.com. 5 December 2008. http://www.infodefensa.com/?noticia=thales-plantea-la-posibilidad-de-suministrar-el-blindado-ligero-bushmaster-mediante-el-alquiler-de-su-uso.
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- Remote Weapon System Breakthrough EOS Optronics GmbH, 13 July 2007.
- "Opnieuw Nederlander omgekomen in Uruzgan". De Pers. 20 September 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071019123712/http://www.depers.nl/binnenland/104756/Nederlander-omgekomen-in-Uruzgan.html. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Bushmaster beschadigd na vuurcontact". Ministerie van Defensie. 20 October 2007. http://www.defensie.nl/missies/actueel/isaf/2007/10/20/4688385/Bushmaster_beschadigd_na_vuurcontact.
- "Extra Bushmasters voor missie Uruzgan". Ministerie van Defensie. 20 November 2007. http://www.defensie.nl/missies/actueel/isaf/2007/11/20/46115763/Extra_Bushmasters_voor_missie_Uruzgan.
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- Dodd, Mark (8 August 2008). "Dutch army lines up to buy more Bushmasters for combat". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/dutch-army-to-buy-more-bushmasters/story-e6frg8yo-1111117137778. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- defence.professionals | defpro.com
- "US Army buys Bushmasters from Aust". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 June 2007. http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/06/29/1965632.htm.
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- Neville (2011), p. 42
- Chuter, Andrew (18 June 2009). "Panhard to Push Bushmaster to French Army". DefenseNews. Army Times Publishing Company. http://www.defensenews.com/osd_story.php?sh=VSDY&i=3587525. Retrieved 24 February 2010. [dead link]
- Neville, Leigh (2011). Special Operations Patrol Vehicles: Afghanistan and Iraq. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-187-0.
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- Thales Protected Mobility - official manufacturer dedicated website.
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