Ukraine has launched a bold bid for its army to be used as a “guinea pig” for cutting-edge Australian military technology as it seeks to gain a crucial battlefield advantage over Russian forces. As the war grinds on, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, is lobbying the Albanese government to send over a fleet of 30 new light armoured vehicles known as Hawkeis, which have been designed and manufactured in Bendigo.
The patrol vehicles, named after a death adder that was named in honour of former prime minister Bob Hawke, can carry up to six soldiers, have removable armour and mounts for weapons and are light enough to be carried by helicopter. Although they are untested on the battlefield, Myroshnychenko said they would make a valuable contribution to the war effort. He also plans to request another 30 Bushmaster vehicles on top of the 60 Australia has already pledged.
Myroshnychenko said he would present his proposal at an upcoming meeting with Defence Minister Richard Marles, describing the idea as a “win-win” for both countries as Ukraine could provide valuable feedback on the vehicles. Marles declined to comment before seeing the proposal. After experiencing technical problems during construction, the vehicles are not expected to reach full operational capability until next year.
By the numbers: In July, the government announced another $100 million in military aid, taking Australia’s contribution to $385 million.