Armor: Bushmaster Survives Iraq


June 14, 2006: The Australian Bushmaster armored truck has proved itself capable during its first combat use in Iraq. The vehicle was developed in Australia in the late 1990s, with mass production finally beginning in 2002. Originally, the plan was to order 341 vehicles, to equip three light infantry battalions. These units would thus be able to patrol vast areas of uninhabited coasts and the outback (the large arid region comprising most of the interior). There was enough space in the vehicles to store three days worth of supplies for these patrols. In 2000, two of the prototype vehicles were sent with the Australian peacekeeping force in East Timor.

After reliability problems caused some redesign, and cost growth, the order was reduced to 299 vehicles (at $670,000 each). The vehicle is based on the South African design concept, with a V shaped underside, to deflect mine and bomb blast. The 4x4, 15 ton vehicle has a crew of two and carries eight troops in an armored box. The vehicle is protected against 12.7mm machine-gun bullets, and bombs and mines containing up to 21 pounds of explosives. Reactive armor can be added for protection from RPGs. The vehicle has a top road speed of 125 kilometers an hour and a max road range of 1,000 kilometers. Lots of bulletproof glass is used, and in the troops compartment, there are firing ports under the windows. The vehicle carries a gun ring, on a hatch near the front of the crew compartment, that can mount a 5.56mm or 7.62mm machine-gun. The vehicle is a comfortable ride. The army has received 152 troop carrier variants. Other types include; ambulance, command vehicle, mortar carrier (81mm or 120mm, internally mounted), engineer vehicle, bushfire fighting vehicle.


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