Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, is expected to end a bitter contest to supply thousands of trucks to the Defence Force, announcing today the German company Rheinmetall MAN has won the contract.
The decision has been criticised by Defence insiders, who say soldiers could be left exposed to roadside bomb attacks by the way the tender has been handled.
The government will throw a bone the way of the Bendigo company Thales, ordering about 150 of its Bushmaster utes and forestalling potential job losses at the company.
The $2.9 billion project to supply 2700 light, medium and heavy trucks has been a three-way shoot-out between the Rheinmetall MAN option, Thales and Mercedes-Benz.
And an ever popular quote...
"These vehicles, whilst they meet mostly the tender requirements, are not actually designed to suit the conditions the [Australian Defence Force] will require in deployment. They will require modification to meet ADF specification."
And possible bad results include:
"The major concern is that the government has put pressure on DMO [Defence Materiel Organisation] to select the lowest-cost option with scant regard to the protection levels and total cost over the equipment life,'' the source said. ''… it is highly unlikely that the protection level will be able to be upgraded to meet the evolving threat. Therefore, when ADF deploys into their next threat environment they will either need to buy new vehicles or send soldiers with substandard protection."