The Bushmaster Troop Carrier: Yet another Howard Government Defence Bungle Cont.


Beating about the Bushmaster CONTINUED from

"There was a whole series of problems, of which some were on the Defence side and some were on their side," Acutt said. "To put it in a nutshell, the ADI bid was based on 500 hours to build a machine and it was going to take them 1400 hours."

Williams said the original estimate was, in hindsight, probably "very optimistic". "You can say Defence should have checked on it, but we had a contract and ADI were prepared to sign up to it. Part of the problem, and probably what ADI will claim, is that they thought it was a commercial, off-the-shelf product.

"In reality, it is a series of commercial, off-the-shelf products [and] when you integrate them in a new vehicle, it is not a commercial vehicle any more, it is a combination. You might take a perfectly respectable braking system but, when you put it on a vehicle of different weight and configuration, you run into problems. My view is that ADI would be pushing to say they did not know it was developmental. Nevertheless they will say that is why they got it wrong," said Williams. "The original contract ... was sufficiently grey that lawyers would have made a lot of money over a long time debating the issue."

Rather than cancel the contract, Defence persisted until 2002, when a new version of the vehicle entered a second series of trials. By then the contract had been renegotiated, with the cost blowing out and a sharp reduction in the number of vehicles expected.

One factor behind the decision to continue was that jobs might have otherwise been lost from the ADI production plant in the Victorian city of Bendigo. Another, it has been claimed, was that no off-the-shelf alternative was available.

Today, the vehicle is still being tested. However, a spokesman for ADI, Leigh Funston, said it is expected to be in full production by the end of the year.

"The good news is that it has been designed and built here in Australia ... We are very confident that [the problems] are behind us," he said.


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This page was last updated Fri Sep 17 14:21:39 2004 Pacific time