The Australian motorsport community has thrown its weight behind the home grown Thales' Hawkei protected mobility vehicle. The next generation of lightweight, high mobility protected vehicles was launched recently in conjunction with the final round of the 2013 Auto One V8 Utes Racing Series at Sydney Olympic Park, with the Hawkei leading the field around on parade laps.
We'd normally consider the V8 Utes to be the toughest thing on track, but such an imposing vehicle makes our race utes look pretty small in comparison," said V8 Ute driver Adam Marjoram of Auto One Racing of the special laps.
The Hawkei is a 7-tonne utility, powered by a 3.2 litre turbocharged engine, which is mated to a ZF 6HP280 gearbox, that feeds 200kW of power and 610Nm of torque to all four wheels via a two speed transfer case. The transmission comes from the same family that is utilised in the Australian made Ford Falcon and Territory models.
Capable of speeds of up to 130km/h, the Hawkei can carry up to five crew 600km. Delivering unparalleled levels of blast and ballistic protection to meet the needs of the modern warfare, Hawkei can be used for troop movement, command and control, electronic warfare, liaison, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Hawkei family of vehicles includes variants for command posts, use as a utility, border protection and special forces transportation. ZF in Australia has a long standing relationship with Thales Australia, with the two companies collaborating on the build of the famed Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle model.
The Bushmaster features a specially modified ZF Ecomat 6HP transmission, which is closely related to the ZF transmissions found in buses and coaches nationwide. Craig Lowndes, the ZF Services Australia ambassador, was on hand to view the launch of the Hawkei at Sydney Olympic Park, and was impressed with the quality of the vehicle.
"It's amazing what we can achieve here in Australia, our manufacturing industry is alive and kicking," said Lowndes. "The Bushmaster has proven itself all over the world as an incredible vehicle in the battle field, and the Hawkei certainly follows in its footsteps."
"For ZF to be involved in this project is a real tick of approval for the quality of its products. To be able to reliably adapt a road car transmission for a vehicle of this nature really speaks volumes."
Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins was enthusiastic at the announcement of the partnership with the Auto One V8 Utes series, which will see the Hawkei utilised at rounds in 2014.
"Where better to show what Australia can do than at the Auto One V8 Ute series? The Hawkei is Aussie know-how at its best," said Mr Jenkins. "Focused on winning, being the best and protecting your mates, that's Australia. That's what the Hawkei is all about. We think this Aussie beast is in great company with the iconic Australian ute."
The Hawkei is currently in the prototype testing and development phase, which if successful will see upwards of 1,300 vehicles produced at the Thales base in Bendigo.
Watch the desktop version of the Hawkei ute gets a sporting salute video here.