The New Zealand government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the ageing suite of armoured Pinzgauers currently in use by the NZ Army.
According to the NZ government, the move will come at an overall cost of NZ$102.9 million, which includes funding for 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmasters, as well as training, a desktop simulator, support equipment and infrastructure upgrades at Linton Camp, Palmerston North.
NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark ascribed the purchase to the "age and lack of protection" offered by the contemporary Pinzgauer fleet, adding that the "need to replace the Army's fleet of land vehicles was outlined in last year's Defence Capability Plan".
“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 Minister Mark.
“The Bushmaster is the right vehicle for our community, nation and region.”
On its part, Thales Australia welcomed the announcement, stating that the A$75 million supply contract will include more than 50 Australian businesses to deliver five variants of the vehicle.
The company adds that the vehicle will bring a "new level of capability and interoperability to the NZ Army," which plans to use the Bushmaster fleet to 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.
Along with wide use in Australia and other Five Eyes nations, the Bushmaster is already in service with New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces, as well as the Netherlands, Fiji, Japan, Jamaica, and Indonesia.
Deliveries are expected to commence in late 2022 with the full fleet beginning operational introduction from late 2023.