At the request of Ukraine, the Australian authorities provided our Armed Forces with Bushmaster military vehicles. So what are these armored vehicles?
Lately there has been a lot of talk about whether our defenders have enough weapons to fight back hordes of orcs. Every day, the media report on the arrival in Ukraine of various weapons and military equipment provided by our partners. That is, the aid is coming, and the weapons are quite modern and effective. And our military is rapidly mastering this rather complex equipment and is already successfully using it in combat conditions. It is the help of Western partners that has allowed us to confront the enemy in all directions for more than two months. Yes, our defenders have tremendous courage, as well as the combat skills to use modern weapons, which have been repeatedly noted by NATO military experts. Now our armed forces are gaining invaluable combat experience. This experience comes at a high price, but we must defend our country, our cities and our villages.
Today I want to tell you about an interesting present from faraway Australia. We are going to talk about an armored infantry vehicle Bushmaster, or as it is sometimes called ‘The Bushy’.
Bushmaster Armored Vehicle
The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle was built in Australia for the safe movement of troops to combat zones. It is not intended for direct participation in combat operations, but only for the transportation of servicemen to the task area. However, during the modernization the vehicle received protection from mines and ambushes. Therefore, the protected Bushmaster will be useful for both the Ukrainian military and civilians, providing protection against mines, explosives, artillery and small arms.
The Bushmaster armored vehicle was developed by the Australian company Thales Australia (formerly ADI). It is manufactured at Thales’ plant in Bendigo, Victoria. By the way, the name of the armored personnel carrier comes from the name of a deadly venomous snake found in tropical forests. The manufacturer positions this vehicle as an infantry mobility vehicle (IMV).
The Australian Army has tested the vehicle in extreme weather conditions and in different areas, from mountainous areas to deserts and tropical areas in northern Australia. In July 2002, the Army contracted with ADI to supply 300 Bushmaster armored vehicles in six setups: IMV, ambulance, fire support, mortar, engineering and command.
The Bushmaster can travel at a cruising speed of 100 km/h, so it transports the military quickly and comfortably and is suitable for use in difficult weather conditions and hazardous operating environments. The Bushmaster family of vehicles provides a high level of protection against anti-tank mines, explosives, projectile fragments and small arms fire.
Orders and shipments of Bushmasters
The first of 300 Bushmaster vehicles was received by the Australian Army in August 2004. The vehicle was used in Iraq in April 2005 and in Afghanistan in September 2005. Deliveries were completed in 2008.
In February 2006, ADI signed a licensing agreement with the American company Oshkosh Truck Corporation to sell, manufacture and support Bushmaster for North American customers and countries eligible to purchase this equipment. In January 2007, Oshkosh received a contract from the US Marine Corps for two Bushmaster MRAP Category II vehicles with mine protection.
In August 2006, the Royal Netherlands Army contracted 25 Bushmaster IMVs for operations in Afghanistan. For deployment speed, the machines were supplied from those intended for the Australian Army. In August 2009, the Netherlands placed orders for another 14 Bushmasters, bringing the total number of trucks ordered to 86.
In December 2006, the Australian Army ordered another 143 transports, in August 2007 it announced the purchase of another 250 vehicles, and in October 2008 it ordered another 293. The total number of armored vehicles for the Australian Army at that time was 737 vehicles. The Australian Defense Forces placed orders for another 101 Bushmaster in May 2011. A further order for 214 units was announced in July 2012.
In May 2008, in response to an urgent operational need, the UK placed orders for 24 Bushmaster vehicles for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 1000th Bushmaster was delivered to the Australian Defense Forces in June 2013.
In December 2013, the Jamaican Defense Forces ordered 12 Bushmaster vehicles and signed a five-year maintenance package agreement. The vehicles were put into operation in January 2016. In April 2014, the Ministry of Defense of Japan placed an order for four Bushmaster vehicles for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF). Deliveries were made in March 2015. In June 2015, the Netherlands ordered 12 new Bushmaster vehicles. Deliveries were completed by mid-2016.
And now, in early April, these powerful armored vehicles from faraway Australia have reached Ukraine.
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Bushmaster remote weapon system
Some Bushmaster series vehicles are equipped with a remote-controlled weapon system, and all armored vehicles are equipped with a Thales SOTAS M2 multimedia communication system. Such armored personnel carriers were sent to Afghanistan in October 2006. In November 2007, the Dutch army ordered an additional 5 vehicles to replace vehicles damaged in Afghanistan. In addition, 13 more were ordered in June 2008, 18 in August 2008, 9 in January 2009 and 14 in June 2009. All of them have proven themselves quite well in extreme conditions.
In September 2006, it was announced that the Australian Army’s Bushmaster vehicles would be equipped with a remote weapon system (RWS) to further protect personnel. A total of 44 Raven R-400 combat modules were ordered from the American Recon Optical and Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) from Australia, and the upgraded vehicles entered service in 2008.
Tactical armored patrol vehicle (TAPV)
The tactical armored patrol vehicle (TAPV) variant is also worth mentioning. In June 2010, Thales Canada signed a cooperation agreement with DEW Engineering and Development to participate in a competition for a tactical armored patrol vehicle for Canada. Thales was shortlisted, but the final contract was signed with Textron Systems Canada. Military experts could only wonder why this happened. Nobody gave any explanations.
In February 2010, the Australian Ministry of Defense opted for a universal Bushmaster version with single cab for the third phase of the LAND 121 program.
Reliable armor protects the Bushmaster
The hull of ‘The Bushy’ is made of welded steel armor. This material provides protection against small arms fire and projectile fragments. Bushmaster IMV also provides better protection against landmines and improvised explosive devices than conventional armored light vehicles such as HUMMWV, G-Wagen and Land Rover. In addition, it is possible to install an additional set of armor, which provides protection against armor-piercing projectiles of 7.62 mm caliber.
Wire cutters are installed on the roof on both sides of the vehicle to protect personnel. Fuel and hydraulic tanks are located outside the crew compartments, which minimizes the risk of fire. A 270-liter drinking water tank is installed under the floor of the crew compartment, which contributes to the safety of fighters in the event of a mine explosion. Protected seat provides additional protection against spinal injuries.
Bushmaster crew cabin
Let’s take a look inside the Bushmaster. The 1415 mm high cab is equipped with eight ergonomic seats with four-point seat belts. Next to each seat there is a place for storing personal weapons and equipment, there is a radio communication system and a separate air conditioning system. The cabin is equipped with three roof hatches with lockable handles to provide protection from ambush and can be an alternative route for evacuation. The armored vehicle is designed to carry up to ten soldiers.
The IMV can be transported by C-130 Hercules aircraft for rapid deployment in forward areas of hostilities.
In June 2008, Thales released a universal version – an armored combat auxiliary vehicle Bushmaster with one cabin. This vehicle can carry a load of 4000 kg on the rear pallet, has a cruising speed of 100 km/h and a maximum range of 800 km.
In 2009, an auxiliary version with a double cab was added to the range, which was selected in accordance with the requirements of the UK Ministry of Defense for operational utility vehicles (OUVS).
The areas of the driver’s and crew’s cab are designed with ergonomics in mind, which provides comfortable movement in various terrains and in harsh conditions, minimizing crew fatigue and allowing them to focus on the tasks. The engine noise level inside the cockpit and crew compartment is very low.
The cabin is equipped with large front and side windows for a circular view. Ergonomically designed instrument panel provides easy readability of indicators and is compatible with night vision goggles.
The driver can use the central tire inflation system with buttons, which allows adjustment of the tire pressure on the go according to the type of terrain and support the inflation of tires with limited punctures.
Armament of Bushmaster
A 7.62 mm or 5.56 mm machine gun can be mounted on the roof of the vehicle. Remotely controlled weapon systems can be used to upgrade some existing Australian vehicles. A 12.7-mm machine gun or a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher can be installed to the combat module. The general design of the Bushmaster also allows you to place a small turret cannon. Windows with ballistic protection can be equipped with additional loopholes.
Lockers can be replaced with compartments for additional ammunition and weapons. It is also possible to remove the tanks with extra fuel and water to increase the working space. Crew seats can be modified according to performance requirements.
Powerful turbo engine
The Caterpillar 3126E ATAAC six-cylinder turbo engine with six-speed ZF automatic transmission delivers up to 224 kW (300 hp) at 2400 rpm. It provides a power to weight ratio of 16 kW/t, controlled maximum cruising speed reaches 100 km/h. The range of the vehicle exceeds 800 km.
The independent suspension system on double cross levers provides good mobility on rough and difficult terrain. The complete power unit (engine, automatic transmission, cooling system) can be easily replaced in the field without special tools.
The vehicle is equipped with a hydraulic 10-ton winch and a central tire inflation system. Bushmaster is not an amphibian.
Specifications of Bushmaster
- Manufacturer: Thales Australia
- Type: armored infantry mobility vehicle
- Crew: 10 people, including driver
- Engine: Caterpillar 3126E 7.2-liter, 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine
- Weight: up to 15 000 kg
- Dimensions: length 7.1 m, width 2.3 m, height 3.25 m
- Cruising range: 800 km
- Cruising speed: 100 km/h
- Armament: optional machine guns 5.56 mm LSW or 7.62 mm MAG 58
Why is this armored vehicle important for the Armed Forces?
It would seem that it’s an ordinary armored vehicle, which is not so modern. But it proved itself well during the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, it should be understood that this is not only an IMV, but it can also be used as an ambulance capable of transporting the wounded from the battlefield.
Bushmaster is quite resistant to mines, has good mobility on any terrain, can not only transport personnel, but also, if necessary, is able to provide covering fire with a machine gun or even a cannon. Indeed, this vehicle can be a reliable protection for our soldiers, and every life saved will bring us closer to victory over the invaders. Everything will be Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine! Death to enemies!
You can also help Ukraine fight with Russian occupants via Savelife or via an official page of the National Bank of Ukraine.