this is the latest episode in the saga of the Bushranger. This is lightly armoured 4x4 vehicle designed to carry a rifle section long distances, it is basically a police internal security vehicle, which was fostered on the Australian Army through an extremely flawed project to reorganised the army called A21 (Army 21st Century). Some 363 of the vehicles are being bought for the army and the RAAF Ground Defence Guards (18). It is a vehicle which has nothing in common with anyother piece of Australian military equipment, all spare parts will have to be imported form the US of A.
It is a big lump of a vehicle, that no one really knows what to do with. It cannot be used as a APC (too lightly armoured), it is difficult to manouver, its cross country performance is appalling, it used more fuel than a LAVII Bison (here called a ALAVPC, modern Australia loves American style abbreviations). Everyone with whom I have talked; be they the users (Royal Australian Infantry and RAAF Ground Defence) or the maintainers (RAust Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) or the actual suppliers of spare parts (R Australian Army Ordnance Corps)consider it to be a very expensive lemon.
Jock in Sydney
New army vehicle 'unreliable'
By Brian Woodley
August 20, 2021 The Australian
IT was to be the ultimate in armoured ground transport for combat troops, but the Bushmaster prototype has been stamped "unreliable" by the army and sent back to the factory, delaying production by more than two years and increasing costs.
The rejection, revealed to The Australian< by senior officials in the Defence Materiel Organisation, is a setback for the newly privatised Australian Defence Industries, which was contracted to start delivering 370 Bushmasters off an assembly line in Bendigo, Victoria, last May.
Priced at close to $500,000 each, only three prototypes have been built.
The parties are negotiating "major contract changes" in 20 areas such as mechanics, electronics, logistics and maintenance to bring the vehicle up to scratch and to set new price and delivery schedules.
"Reliability is a problem. We're not prepared to give approval yet to go into serious production," said Colonel Grant Hollingsworth, the DMO's director of wheeled manpower systems. The vehicle was "80 to 90 per cent there" but needed "rectification and enhancement".
ADI director of engineering and vehicles Mark Diedrichs said Colonel Hollingsworth's assessment that the Bushmaster was not likely to enter production before late 2003 was "conservative, but I concur with that".
Mr Diedrichs said: "There are issues with subsystems and reliability. We're working to deliver a product that meets the customer's requirements and we're very close to meeting that. But it's been an uphill battle."
ADI, previously the commonwealth-owned defence contractor, was sold in August 1999 to a consortium of the Belgiorno-Nettis family-controlled Transfield and French electronics entity Thomson-CSF. ADI had by then won the tender to produce the primarily Australian-designed Bushmaster.
Both parties accept costs will rise beyond the fixed-price contract of $203 million, signed in June, 1999. ADI disagreed with claims by The Australian's sources that costs could exceed $300 million.
Mr Diedrichs said Bushmaster was a developmental project. "As the system has evolved, there have been enhancements and they have to be paid for. Some people (wrongly) latch on to that and say it's a cost blow-out."
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Eggler, DMO program manager for Project Bushranger, under which Bushmaster falls, said: "We're endeavouring to do this on a cost-neutral basis, the whole negotiation."
The DMO and ADI remain committed to Bushmaster, which for the first time provides Australian troops with armoured rather than canvas-sided transport. They acknowledge that some in the army view the Bushmaster as a dud, but reject this as "ill-informed" criticism."
What they do not talk about is the cost of the spare parts, these are skyrocketing.