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Ukrainian soldiers praise ‘life-saving’ Australian-made Bushmaster vehicles

Ukrainian soldiers sing the praises of Australian-made Bushmasters and call for more to fend off the brutal Russian invasion of their country.

The 19 surviving troopships are in constant action and under heavy fire in eastern Ukraine as the soldiers lucky enough to pilot them label them as lifesavers.

In late May, images surfaced showing the burnt-out wreckage of a Bushmaster sitting on an empty field on the Donetsk-Luhansk border in eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian unit commander has now confirmed that a Bushmaster has been destroyed near the village of Trypillia, but everyone in the bombed vehicle survived.

Vitaly, who drives and commands another Bushmaster, told the… Sydney Morning Herald he was part of the battle and saw what happened.

“I was there, I saw Bushmaster go in for the first time, bring the boys back and then go in a second time. And then it got hit,” Unit Commander Vitaly told the Sydney Morning Herald

“It’s armored inside and that’s a big plus for this vehicle as it protects the safety and health of the soldiers inside.

“If we had more of these types of vehicles, we would save more lives – and the lives of our soldiers are the most important thing.”

The Bushmaster (pictured) is an 11-ton armored military vehicle and has been proving very popular with Ukrainian defenders since the Australian sent 20 to the besieged country in April

The Bushmaster (pictured) is an 11-ton armored military vehicle and has been proving very popular with Ukrainian defenders since the Australian sent 20 to the besieged country in April

This wreckage of a combat vehicle in eastern Ukraine was identified by Ukraine Weapons Tracker as one of 20 Bushmaster vehicles donated by the Australian government

This wreckage of a combat vehicle in eastern Ukraine was identified by Ukraine Weapons Tracker as one of 20 Bushmaster vehicles donated by the Australian government

It’s not just the Bushmasters’ safety that makes the vehicle popular with Ukrainian defenders compared to their Soviet-era troop transports.

“First of all, it’s very comfortable,” Vitaly said.

It has air conditioning, it is like a house on wheels.

‘I would have lived inside. I stay in it all the time.”

Nicknamed ‘The Bushy’, the Bushmaster is an 11-ton armored military vehicle built in the Victorian town of Bendigo and designed to deploy up to 10 soldiers on the battlefield.

The 20 vehicles sent to Ukraine were converted for service after being “equipped” after extensive service in Afghanistan and emergency relief zones.

They were repainted olive green with the flag of Ukraine on each side.

Two itinerant vehicles (one pictured Friday) are among 20 retired Bushmasters that have been repainted and refitted to be used in Ukraine

Two itinerant vehicles (one pictured Friday) are among 20 retired Bushmasters that have been repainted and refitted to be used in Ukraine

The words “United with Ukraine” were affixed to the vehicles in both English Ukrainian and a kangaroo standing next to a Ukrainian flag.

Vitaly made a plea for Australia to send more ammunition, such as the six lightweight towed howitzer guns accompanying the Bushmasters.

“We need artillery and ammunition for the artillery,” he said.

“We need howitzers, we need more tanks and armored vehicles – lots of armored vehicles.”

An M113AS4 armored personnel carrier is loaded onto an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland as part of Australia's military aid to Ukraine

An M113AS4 armored personnel carrier is loaded onto an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland as part of Australia’s military aid to Ukraine

The M113AS4 is a long-standing ADF armored fighting vehicle that is an advanced variant of the US M113 armored personnel carrier in service since the Vietnam War

The M113AS4 is a long-standing ADF armored fighting vehicle that is an advanced variant of the US M113 armored personnel carrier in service since the Vietnam War

On June 9, Australia sent the first four of 14 heavier M113AS4 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.

The vehicles were loaded onto a Ukrainian Antonov AN-124 aircraft at the RAAF Amberley base just outside Brisbane.

The M113AS4 is an advanced variant of the American model M113, which has been in use since the Vietnam War.

In response to requests from Ukraine, Australia has pledged more than $285 million in military aid, including anti-armour weapons, ammunition, drones, medical supplies and other equipment.

Defense Secretary Richard Marles said it showed Australia’s continued commitment to the Ukrainian people.

“Australia stands behind Ukraine and again calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Marles said.

Australia is also supplying Ukraine with six howitzer artillery guns (pictured in Afghanistan) as part of a military aid package worth more than $285 million

Australia is also supplying Ukraine with six howitzer artillery guns (pictured in Afghanistan) as part of a military aid package worth more than $285 million

Since the launch of the all-out attack on Ukraine in February, Russia has encountered fervent resistance.

It is now focusing its efforts on securing the eastern part of Donbas, which broadly refers to the eastern regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Before the invasion, the area was largely in the hands of Russian-backed separatists.

The vehicle's design means it can fulfill a variety of other roles, including as an ambulance (shown, Bushmaster's armored vehicles are preparing for deployment to help flooded communities in March 2022)

The vehicle’s design means it can fulfill a variety of other roles, including as an ambulance (shown, Bushmaster’s armored vehicles are preparing for deployment to help flooded communities in March 2022)

What is a Bush Master?

The Bushmaster Protected Military Vehicle (PMV) – or Infantry Mobility Vehicle – is an Australian-built, four-wheel drive armored vehicle that saw action in several wars and is designed to transport up to 10 soldiers to the battlefield.

The vehicle, nicknamed ‘the Bushy’, was built to withstand any environment and protect troops from bomb explosions, and was widely used by the Australian Defense Forces during the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Bushmaster can carry mortars and other heavier weapons and can also be equipped with machine guns and other military equipment.

It can also carry enough fuel and supplies to run for three days without supplies and has a central tire inflation system that allows it to function in the event of a puncture.

  • First produced: 1997
  • Number built: 1.195
  • Cost: $500,000 (AUD)
  • Crew: One driver, nine passengers
  • Weight: 11 – 15 tons
  • Designed by: Australian Defense Industry (ADI)
  • Currently produced by: Thales Australia (formerly ADI)
  • Used in: War in Afghanistan, War in Iraq, East Timor, Golan Heights, Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War, Northern Mali conflict
  • Used by: Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Fiji, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Netherlands. (Several others, including the United States, France, and Spain, have expressed interest)
  • variants: Several versions of ‘The Bushy’ have been produced. These include: Troop, Command, Air Defense, Ambulance, Assault Pioneer, Mortar variant, Direct Fire Weapons, General Maintenance.

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