• Thales’ Bushmasters are a major Australian export success story.
    Thales’ Bushmasters are a major Australian export success story. Defence

The NZ Government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the NZ Army’s armoured Pinzgauers, Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced.

The new fleet of 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmaster NZ5.5 will provide better protection for personnel and improved carrying capacity.

The A$75 million contract will involve more than 50 Australian businesses to deliver five variants of the vehicle, securing jobs and investment along the extensive Bushmaster supply chain.

“The age and lack of protection offered by the old fleet make this another investment in NZDF capability that must be made in order to protect our service people,” Mark said. “The need to replace the Army’s fleet of land vehicles was outlined in last year’s Defence Capability Plan, with the armoured Pinzgauer highlighted as a vehicle type reaching the end of its operational life and prioritised for replacement.

“The NZ Army operates in diverse and challenging environments, so a multi-purpose, highly mobile vehicle has been selected, one that has proven its ability to provide a high level of protection.

“Funding of $102.9 million will deliver the vehicles, along with training, a desk top simulator, support equipment and infrastructure upgrades at Linton Camp.

“The versatility of this vehicle will increase the Defence Force’s ability to help our communities during a time of need such as a natural disaster, and contribute to supporting vital peacekeeping operations with our global partners.”

Along with wide use in Australia and other Five Eyes nations, the Bushmaster is already in service with NZ’s Special Operations Forces.

The new Bushmaster fleet will supplement other vehicles and provide new capabilities, such as a protected ambulance, that the Army does not currently have. The vehicle’s high levels of blast and ballistic protection makes it suitable for deployment as a troop transport, operating as a command and communication hub.

“This is the second fleet of protected mobility vehicles approved for purchase by the Government. It follows delivery this year of the Polaris MRZR fleet of side by side all-terrain vehicles that were announced last year to replace the quad bikes and other small vehicles used by the New Zealand Army,” said Mark.

“The Bushmaster is the right vehicle for our community, nation and region.”

Deliveries are expected to commence in late 2022 with the full fleet beginning operational introduction from late 2023.

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