Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp has presented details of the modernisation programme for the protected BUSHMASTER vehicles to the Chamber of MPs. According to current plans, the fleet of more than 100 vehicles will be modernised by Thales Australia by 2027. The first modernised BUSHMASTERs are to enter service in 2024.
The Netherlands procured the BUSHMASTERs in several lots starting in 2006. The vehicles have been laid out for tasks such as:
- command and control
- IED defence
- electronic combat
The vehicles were heavily used in the missions in Afghanistan and Mali, Kamp said. Now they have to be equipped with new technology to meet the changed threat environment. Measures include: new remote-controlled weapon stations, strengthening protection with new armour elements, improving command and observation equipment and communication systems, as well as a rear-view camera. In order to supply power for the increased number of electrical consumers, an auxiliary power unit will be installed, which is also expected to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The BUSHMASTER, which weighs about 15 tonnes, is powered by a 224-kW diesel engine via a ZF transmission on all four wheels. Depending on the mission equipment, up to nine soldiers can be accommodated in addition to the driver. The ballistic and mine protection is up to Level 3 according to STANAG 4569. Thales has delivered about 1,200 BUSHMATERs worldwide since 1997, the vast majority for the Australian Army.