Victorian-based Thales Australia has been awarded a A$1.3 billion Commonwealth contract to build the next generation of military vehicles in Bendigo, 2 hours north-west of Melbourne.

The contract to build 1,100 Hawkei military vehicles and 1,000 trailers is expected to create 60 new jobs and secure hundreds of existing jobs at the Bendigo manufacturing facility and at supply chain businesses across Victoria.

Thales Australia is a subsidiary of the Thales Group, a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. Thales in Australia is a trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services. Employing around 3,200 people in over 35 sites across the country, Thales in Australia recorded revenues of A$1 billion in 2014.

Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia, said, "We are proud to have been chosen to deliver this next generation of protected vehicles to our armed forces, and we stand by them ready to support and adapt it as their requirements evolve."

"We also thank our many suppliers on the program – companies in Australia and overseas that have been with us on this long journey, and who have played a significant role in shaping the Hawkei and contributing to its success. It's a great story about what Australian industry and international partnerships can achieve."

Image: Hawkei military vehicle
The Hawkei is a military vehicle built for the Australian Defence Force 
Victoria is Australia's state for defence industry excellence. Victoria's existing strengths in military land vehicle manufacturing, naval ship design and building and defence ICT are increasingly being enhanced by new and emerging competitive advantages in areas such as advanced manufacturing, cyber technologies, robotics and professional services.  Victoria's defence industry has been measured to have an economic impact on Victoria of up to $8 billion, employing around 7,000 people.

Victorian Minister for Industry, Lily D'Ambrosio said, "This contract is a vote of confidence in Victoria's defence manufacturing industry that will boost jobs and benefit local businesses across the supply chain."

The defence industry is one of the sectors of extraordinary potential growth that the Victorian Government is supporting through the A$200 million Future Industries Fund. This fund will help transition the Victorian economy through targeted investment to grow Victorian industries and create more jobs, ensuring the state is best placed to reach into the emerging defence force markets along with traditional defence markets in the US, Europe and Australia.