April 15, 2009: Australia is equipping its Bushmaster armored vehicles with a new, Internet savvy, communications system. The SOTAS IP system uses lots of Internet technology and techniques to provide a flexible, and familiar, communications system for troops using the Bushmaster. Each of the 700 SOTAS IP systems Australia is getting provides the vehicle crew with Internet services like VOIP (Internet telephone), file transfer, instant WiFi and Ethernet networking and connections with military radios. The system also includes noise reduction, giving users very clear sound and reduction of loud sounds inside the vehicle, and out. The hardware is modular and easy to repair and upgrade. The gear is hermitically sealed and more resistant to dust, in places like Afghanistan. SOTAS IP is already used in fifty different vehicles and 30 different countries.
Early Bushmaster costs about $1.3 million. The Bushmaster is made in Australia and based on a South African design concept, with a V shaped underside, to deflect mine and bomb blast. The 4x4, 15 ton vehicle has a crew of two and carries eight troops in what amounts to an armored box. The vehicle is protected against 12.7mm machine-gun bullets, and bombs and mines containing up to 21 pounds of explosives. The vehicle has a top road speed of 125 kilometers an hour and a max road range of 1,000 kilometers. Lots of bulletproof glass is used, and in the troop compartment, there are firing ports under the windows. The vehicle carries a gun ring, on a hatch near the front of the crew compartment, that can mount a 5.56mm or 7.62mm machine-gun. This is normally replaced by the remote control turret. The vehicle is a comfortable ride. The Australian army already has nearly 700 Bushmasters, and the vehicles are popular with the troops. The SOTAS IP is expected to make the vehicle even more popular. The U.S. Stryker wheeled armored vehicle is similarly popular because of its extensive use of communications and computers.