The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a request for tender (RFT) for a new C4I system for its new fleet of 43 NZ5.5 Bushmaster 4x4 protected mobility – medium (PV-M) vehicles.
Thales Australia is delivering the new Bushmaster vehicles to the New Zealand Army throughout 2023 of which 42 will need a C4I system. This will ensure they are fully integrated into the wider force as part of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Network Enabled Army (NEA) program.
The MoD wants to find a prime systems integrator and award a contract by June 2024. The selected contractor will deliver a C4I system that will provide a battle management system (BMS) and secure communications capability.
According to the RFT the chosen company will have to integrate selected government furnished equipment on some of the Bushmaster variants. It stated that the AN/PRC-163 (SAASM GPS) radio, AN/PRC-160 radio and the Ops-Core AMP Connectorised headset complete with Invisio V20 and V60 PTT will be fitted on all the vehicles.
Nine C2 variant Bushmasters must also be fitted with AN/PRC- 158 (SAASM GPS) radios and Sitaware HQ BMS software licences. Three of the nine C2 variants are classified as Forward Information Systems Teams (FIST) vehicles that RFT states will have further additional equipment installed including a Forward Communication Access Node (FCAN) providing Upper Tactical Internet access, a CP LAN Heavy switch system, GATR SATCOM antenna and a Cross Domain System.
L-3 Harris is providing the radio sets whilst Systematic is providing the BMS with Cubic supplying the FCAN and SATCOM equipment. The role of these contractors will have to be considered by any new prime systems integrator on the C4I project.
Under the NZ$102.9 million Protected Mobility Capability Project (PMCP) project, the NZ Army is receiving 25 Troop Carrier variant Bushmasters, nine C2 variants, four Evacuation (Ambulance) variants, two Logistics Support variants and two Maintenance Support variants.
The C4I project will be completed in two phases. The first phase is a fast-track implementation of systems that will see the installation of voice communications into 22 vehicles with the AN/PRC-163 into 20 troop carrier and two C2 vehicles with an additional AN/PRC-158 radios fitted into the latter pair. This will allow the PMCP to pass an initial operating capability stage.
The second phase will see the full implementation of the C4I suites with all the systems fitted and with devices that give access to the BMS. This will give a full operating capability in the 2025-26 timeframe.
The RFT will close on 23 November 2023 and an evaluation period will follow that will last until February 2024. Contract negotiations will take place in April 2024 with final government approval sought in May before the contract is awarded. The C4I project will receive funding of about NZ$58 million in capital and NZ$32 million in operating funding over four years.
Separately the NZDF has already installed radios in 10 Bushmaster vehicles to provide an early limited Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) capability for operations in the Pacific and allow the completion of driver and commander training.