DEFENCE expects the last Hawkeis to be ready by June 2023 as talks on backfilling Ukraine-bound Bushmasters go on behind the scenes.
The Defence Force is now "progressively accepting" the armoured Hawkei people movers, many of which have sat idle at Thales in Bendigo, central Victoria, after a protracted saga late in the $1.3 billion rollout.
Defence delayed certifying Hawkeis in late-2020 after a safety incident at the Puckapunyal military base.
No-one was injured but Defence asked for, and got, a solution, kicking plans for 1100 Hawkeis and 1058 trailers back into gear.
Problems reared again three months later, with the ABC reporting of an "undisclosed" issue around Hawkei brakes.
That problem appears to have been resolved and Defence says it will deliver Hawkeis that meet contractual requirements to its units
Meanwhile, Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters is yet to make significant inroads in a push to backfill the Bendigo-built Bushmasters donated to Ukraine for its war with Russia.
Prior to the election, she said she would seek a meeting on the issue with relevant ministers in the new parliamentary term.
Ms Chesters is understood to have discussed the matter with Thales. Briefings within the incoming Albanese government are ongoing.
Ms Chesters has previously said the Ukrainian donations had come as Bendigo workers neared the end of contracts, potentially freeing them up to replace Bushmasters headed for war.
Defence says it sourced all donated Bushmasters from existing stock but does not expect their absence to impact its operational preparedness.
It has nearly 1000 Bushmasters.
Australia has left the door open to more help for Ukraine, which is struggling to resupply as the war grinds on.
Ukraine has been preparing to plead its case with NATO allies in Brussels to replace dwindling heavy weapons stockpiles, the Australian Associated Press has reported.
At least one Bushmaster appears to have been destroyed in Ukraine over recent months, according to images circulating online.
Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker published vision in late May showing what it said was the first verified loss of a Bushmaster in the war.
The social media account collates vision of equipment being used in the war, including vehicles destroyed by both Ukraine and Russian forces.
The vision shows the wreck of a Bushmaster in a field, perhaps at the side of a road.
Ukraine Weapons Tracker said Russian forces destroyed it in Trypillia, south of Kyiv.
The vehicle appears to be one Ukraine fitted out with a remote weapons station, not one of the handful the Australian Defence Force turned into ambulances.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ukraine Weapons Tracker has not shared any other vision of Bushmasters since May 28, when it tweeted the images of the destroyed vehicle, though it has shown what appeared to be one of the Howitzers Australia sent over with Bushmasters.
The cannon was reportedly deployed "on the most dense and difficult part of the front" on May 31, near Lysychansk.
Since then, fighting has intensified across a river in the city of Sieverondonetsk.
Ukraine defied a Russian ultimatum to surrender the besieged city on Wednesday.
Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers inside a chemical factory, the Australian Associated Press has reported.
They have been sheltering from weeks of almost constant Russian bombardment.
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