Fiji will buy an additional 14 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV) from Australian Defence Force (ADF) stock, bringing the total number in service with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) to 24.
Fiji bought ten Bushmasters from Australia in 2017 to enhance the capabilities of its forces deployed on United Nations peacekeeping operations. The purchase came in response to the 2014 kidnapping of 45 Fijian peacekeepers deployed with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) by Al-Nursa Front militants in the Golan Heights. While the Fijian soldiers were eventually released unharmed, the circumstances of the kidnapping highlighted a need for the RFMF to better protect its deployed forces.
This need was offered to be met by Australia in 2016 which, as part of the ‘Pacific Step Up’ offered Fiji a comprehensive package including ten Bushmasters, driver and crew training, as well transport of the vehicles to their final destinations.
Fiji accepted the offer in February 2017 and the first seven vehicles were delivered to the Golan Heights in March, with the final three delivered to Fiji for training purposes in April that year. The value of the deal was not disclosed at the time, reportedly at the request of Fiji’s then-Government.
Similarly, neither Fijian nor Australian authorities have disclosed the value of the most recent deal or the timeline for delivery of the additional 14 Bushmasters. In fact, it isn’t clear if a formal contract or agreement has yet been signed.
The sale to Fiji is just the latest example of the ADF Bushmaster inventory being drawn down to support foreign partners. Since 2021, around 149 vehicles have been earmarked for foreign service. This includes the 120 vehicles promised to Ukraine, 15 recently donated to Indonesia, as well as the most recent Fijian order. In total, this represents around 14 per cent of the 1,015 vehicles originally acquired through Project Land 116 Phase 3.
In May, the Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy announced a $160 million dollar contract with Thales Australia to build an additional 78 vehicles in Bendigo. This, he said in a statement, would both keep the production line open and backfill some of the vehicles sent to Ukraine.