First Thales Bushmaster ambulances shipped to Netherlands

According to a tweet published by Thales Australia on April 12, four of the new Australian-made MEDIVAC variant of the Bushmaster APC have been shipped out for service and are headed The Netherlands.
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First four Bushmaster ambulances about to be shipped to The Netherlands (Picture source: Thales Australia)

The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle or Infantry Mobility Vehicle is an Australian-built 4x4 armored vehicle. The Bushmaster was primarily designed by the then government-owned Australian Defence Industries (ADI), and is currently produced by Thales Australia with a support contract provided by Oshkosh Truck following the acquisition of ADI. The Bushmaster is currently in service with the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Army, British Army, Japan Ground Self Defense Force, Fiji Infantry Regiment, Jamaica Defence Force and the New Zealand Army. Bushmaster is combat proven and has been successfully deployed by three armies on operations in a number of regions including the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific.

The role of the Bushmaster is to provide protected mobility transport (or protected troop lift capability), with infantry dismounting from the vehicle before going into action. As the Bushmaster is lightly armored, the term Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV) was initially adopted to distinguish it from a heavier wheeled or tracked armored personnel carrier, such as the ASLAV and M113 also in Australian service. However, the high-hard steel specified for Bushmaster meant that it offered better ballistic and IED protection than existing aluminum alloy clad ASLAVs and M113. Later the Bushmaster's designation was changed to Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV).

Bushmaster in the Dutch army

In July 2006 the Dutch Government announced an urgent purchase of 25 Bushmasters to equip Royal Netherlands Army units operating in Afghanistan. Due to the urgency of this purchase these vehicles were taken from Australian Army stocks. Additional Bushmasters will be built to replenish the Australian inventory. 23 Bushmasters were directly delivered to Dutch Army units in Afghanistan starting from 28 August. The remaining two vehicles were transported to the Netherlands to be used for training purposes. Twelve of the Bushmasters were fitted with a Thales SWARM remote weapon station before delivery.

9 July 2007, Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited was awarded a contract of A$5.8 million for the supply of remote weapon systems for use by the Netherlands army. The contract was awarded to EOS by Thales Australia for fitting to the Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles manufactured by Thales for the Netherlands army. The order entailed 17 CROWS Remote Weapon Stations. It was expected that the first of these systems would be operational in theatre by August 2007.

On 20 September 2007, during an engagement with the Taliban a 20-year-old Dutch soldier was killed in action. His body was evacuated in a Bushmaster which was subsequently attacked with small arms, mortars and RPGs. The vehicle was struck several times but all soldiers in the Bushmaster survived and were unhurt. Since the vehicle was immobilized and still under attack, they were forced to abandon it. Since salvage was not possible the Bushmaster was later destroyed by a Dutch Apache helicopter. The troops were transported out of danger by a second Bushmaster IMV.

On 19 October 2007 during a fire-fight between a Dutch patrol and Taliban insurgents, a Bushmaster was hit by an improvised bomb. Although none of the passengers were hurt, the bomb-damaged the front of the Bushmaster. The Bushmaster was sent to Kamp Holland (the Dutch base) for repairs.

The Netherlands ordered additional Bushmasters on several occasions in 2007 and 2008. On 20 November 2007, the Dutch Defence Ministry announced that it would acquire an additional 10 vehicles to replace the two damaged and two destroyed vehicles and a Patria armored vehicle which was also destroyed in Uruzgan. One vehicle would be sent to the Netherlands for training purposes, and the rest go directly to Afghanistan. The Dutch ordered a further 13 Bushmasters in June 2008, taking their total order to 49 vehicles. At this time six Dutch Bushmasters had been destroyed in Afghanistan.

In January 2009, another batch of nine vehicles was ordered, these vehicles to be fitted with cameras, sensors and a grappler to find and destroy Improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A further 14 Bushmasters were ordered in June 2009. In August 2009, another 14 vehicles were ordered, bringing the total Dutch order to 86. Dutch special forces deployed as part of the Northern Mali conflict from April 2014 were equipped with a number of Bushmasters. May 2015 a Dutch Bushmaster was struck by an IED near Kidal. No one was hurt by this incident and the Bushmaster was returned to the Dutch camp at Gao. In June 2015, a further 12 were ordered. In July 2020 the Dutch Army took delivery of its first Multirole Electronic Warfare Bushmaster. In April 2021, it takes delivery of its first four Bushmaster ambulances.