The Australian Army’s trucks are quickly resembling the fictional ‘Transformers’ as they become smarter, tougher and a whole lot more adaptable on Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019.

Four of the newest truck variants are being put through their paces during the multinational exercise as they conduct transportation and resupply missions so soldiers in the field have fuel, water, ammunition, rations and other stores.

The Rheinmetall MAN 40M, HX77, HX81 and 45M Heavy Recovery Vehicle variants, are a game changer according to Lieutenant Colonel Dan Turner. The medium/heavy capability staff officer said they are networked, protected and can be tailored to perform multiple roles.

“You can have a HX77 configured for fuel, water, stores or with a flatrack for general tasking,” Lieutenant Colonel Turner said.

“It is entirely up to the commander and capable of being tailored to meet any mission.

“The other key strength is the protected capability. A third of the fleet is now armoured, which provides it the ability to deploy into a threat environment. Previously, our fleet was not armoured, which restricted their employment on operations.

“They are also connected into the digital communications network.”

Private Dannika Joyce from the 1st Armoured Regiment conducts a vehicle check of a HX77 after a tactical resupply. Photo: Corporal Tristan Kennedy

The 1st Armoured Regiment’s Major Luke Tindale said they could be exceptional vehicles.

“We have both protected HX77s and 40Ms in my replenishment team, which have proven to be pretty capable over the terrain that we have been going over,” Major Tindale said.

“They have a greater capacity for carrying stores and also the fuel and water modules have a much higher flow rate, which allows us to do our jobs quicker and faster so we’re not in a vulnerable position for any longer than we need to be.”

Specialist driver Private Dannika Joyce said the new HX77 modular vehicle made her job resupplying vehicles on exercises like Talisman Sabre not only easier but safer.

“When you load a vehicle onto the truck, you can actually put the flatrack on the ground, load the vehicle, tie it down and then lift it onto the truck instead of having to go to a ramp and drive it on,” Private Joyce said.

“With other stores and cargo, the vehicle is designed so you can drive into the field, drop the flatrack, leave it there, and then we can pick it back up later.”

Land 121 Phase 3B is the project to replace Army and Royal Australian Air Force Unimog and Mack vehicles with a modern fleet, including protected vehicles to support operations.

The project, worth $3.4 billion, will deliver thousands of vehicles between 2018 and 2022.