Not too many roads on these jungle clad steep volcanic islands

 If we examine the operational locations the NZ Army can be expected to deploy to we soon discover there is something of a problem with roads. The LAV IIIs make sense only in Australia where they can charge across that great flat continent. But in the Pacific where roads are short, narrow and wind up the sides of very steep volcanoes a 23 tonne armoured box that can't swim will struggle to be relevant. Ambushing them with IEDs or undermining attacks (where you blow out the road and tip the target down the hill) is the logical way to defend against armour in such an environment. 

The Pinzgauers can be expected to reach the end of their operational life over this study period while 70 fairly useless and over-valued LAV IIIs would be sold.

Obviously over the period to 2030 we can expect some significant changes to vehicles including autonomous and diesel-electric hybrids. The US Army is experimenting with both already. Locking in a model too early could lead to opportunity costs.

There is also the matter of appearances. Appearances when you are peacekeepers or friends with the local government matter. The Pinzgauer is a "can do" sort of truck which looks narrow, business like and not overly aggressive. It says 'we're capable and here to help'. On the other hand it doesn't offer much protection. By contrast the LAV III says we are here to kill people who piss us off. That can be a good message sometimes but it can also arouse hostility. Aside from its bulk the LAV III has nothing to deal with riots. That means its options are kill people or watch. Not exactly a helpful range of options for the commander on the ground.

The Motorised Battalion will obviously drive 32 of the 194 MAN HX trucks.   In theory a convoy of 32 trucks can deliver about 200 tonnes over dirt roads.  There is no need for HX mobility to drive on state highways and ordinary trucking companies can carry out this role. The Pioneers, Mobile hospital and Rangers may also operate HX trucks as well.  Whether or not the full number of heavy military trucks will be needed cannot be established in theory although it seems unlikely.  Some trucks may be sold while others retained and fitted with Palfinger style self loading cranes. These are standard on most commercial vehicles.

In the armoured box category of vehicles the interesting new arrivals are Finland's Patria (a partial state owned company), Turkey, Singapore and Korea. The Patria AMV has become a global head turner since 2010 with adoption by Sweden and South Africa, no slouches when it comes to armoured vehicle manufacturing themselves. The Turks have developed a whole new range of infantry fighting and patrol vehicles, as has STENGG which is owned (via Temasek holdings) by Singapore. It is notable that STEngG has licenced Gibbs Humdinga but made no sales. The Korean AFV scene has been evolving almost as quickly as the Russian one with the Rotem KW1 Scorpion 16T wheeled APC, K21 tracked AIFV and the K2 Black Panther signs of a rapidly developing capability. Italian trucking firm IVECO has also not been left behind with large sales to Brazil and a strong showing by its SuperAV lately.

When it comes to armour the big question is how does armour fit into the strategic environment. If New Zealand is mostly concerned with peacekeeping and mostly in the Pacific and South East Asia then showing up with armoured vehicles with weapons everywhere is a poor first impression. On the other hand showing up to a tank fight with a land rover (or a LAV III for that matter) is going to make you look pretty stupid.

 LAV III with turret upgrade

The problem with the current LAV III is that it is remarkably expensive for a thoroughly unremarkable weapon system. The 25mm bushmaster can engage helicopters or infantry but is not safe against other armoured fighting vehicles or defensive constructions. Fortunately making it a remarkable weapon system simply means upgrading its firepower. While 70 LAVs would be sold the remaining 35 would be retained with 26 receiving turret upgrades. 

Six would be fitted with the Draco artillery/AA 76mm gun system. 

Another 20 would be fitted with an updated version of the Denel Rooikat turret featuring the Denel GT-4 76mm gun.  The turret would incorporate the fire control system of the Rooikat 105 which uses a tank gun plus a semi-automated loading system. The benefit of the GT-4 is that it can fire both the Denel APFSDS-T anti tank round able to destroy all but the heaviest main battle tanks and High Explosive able to demolish a house but also the same ammunition as the Finnmeccania Draco artillery gun including the DART anti-aircraft round. 

The light armoured vehicle is not armoured like a tank and can't be treated like one but the 76mm turret would certainly make it a very powerful light armoured vehicle with the ability to knock out almost all other light armoured vehicles from a distance that made it safe from return fire. With a 30mm turret with anti tank missiles would be better suited to armoured combat this is more likely to be used against holed up infantry and 'technicals' (civilian utes with heavy machine guns on them). Its purpose is also to fill lightly armed enemies with dread so as to deter foolhardy attacks.

The remaining six would be the LAV III dozer blade variants which would receive towing and lifting cranes and be converted into armoured Pioneer vehicles.

Estimated cost for the Draco systems is on the Systems page. The cost for the Rooikat turret is estimated at $2m each.

Light Operational Vehicles

The Toyota Land Cruiser is used by NATO and ISIS. It is used throughout the Pacific and the world. If your Land Cruiser breaks down there will be parts no matter where you are. Special or exciting Land Cruisers are not. They are simply good for off road driving and incredibly reliable. Instead of spending $250,000 on a LOV (like the Pinzgauer) the Army can spend $121,990+ORC for one or get a field days discount like everyone else. Purchasing would be on-going in phases in line with new model releases.

Armoured versions of these vehicles are available globally. These will protect staff from automatic weapons fire without making the vehicle look like it is a tank.  Roughly 24 would be needed for Military Police and Rangers. These would be used to provide protection without alerting or arousing the local population. 

These vehicles would replace the Pinzgauers as they reach retirement age. Because of the continuous R&D of organisations like Toyota it can be expected by this time they will be even better.

Such vehicles are not recommended, however, where IEDs and land mines are used. The best defence against IEDS and landmines is a V-shaped hull that deflects the blast away from the occupants.

Security Response Vehicle


The light security vehicle is intended for the Military Police. The vehicle is the Okotar Ural from Turkey. The 6.3T vehicle can carry 6 passengers plus a crew of two at up to 110 km/h. At 5.2m long two will fit inside a transport aircraft if it must be dispatched very quickly in response to a dangerous collapse in social control as for example occurred in the Solomon Islands in 2014. The vehicle is built to resist improvised weapons like stones and firearms.  The weapon station can be dismounted. The vehicle would be better armed with the South African Rippel Effect XRGL40 low pressure grenade launcher.  This weapon can fire a range of less than lethal rounds including tear gas, 'skunk', and 'rubber bullet' rounds to 400 or 800m. This sort of vehicle is for responding to situations where law and order has broken down and rioting is endangering people. A military police platoon would use four vehicles.  No more than 16 vehicles would be needed.

Light Armoured Utility Vehicle

This vehicle is intended for the light support and ambulance companies and combat training platoon of the Motorised Battalion, Rangers and potentially SAS. Another Okotar vehicle, the Cobra II is a 12.5 tonne vehicle also able to be deployed from transport aircraft. This 5.6m long vehicle is inherently amphibious and can swim at 3 knots or drive at 110km/h. The commander can use the stabilised remote weapon station to engage anyone ambushing the vehicle. The V-hull is hidden but the Cobra I proved reasonably protective to the crew when it hit mines. The weapon station can be readily dismounted. About 64 vehicles would be needed.

The mechanised combat company would use a remote weapon station with a high pressure 40mm Auto grenade launcher.

The total Okotar order would be worth an estimated $80 million for the Cobra IIs and $20m for the Urals.

Why do we need these vehicles:  Deploying combat vehicles for peacekeeping can be a good move, or it can backfire. These vehicles look like oversized SUVs but are actually (in the case of the Cobra II which weighs as much as a bus) well protected against the kind of gunfire and IEDs one might expect from rebels. These vehicles can be used by Rangers, Motorised, and Military Police. They can be deployed readily by sea or air.  

Tracked support vehicle

The STEng Bronco is based on the Hagglunds tractor. The vehicle works in all weathers and can cross the boggiest terrain. It can carry five tonnes of cargo in any environment and can swim at low speed. It consists of a tractor trailer unit and of course the trailers can be detached. The vehicle offers some armoured protection but does not have a V hull so is not resistant to mines or IEDs. It is better for bypassing slips and bad terrain. This is a specialist vehicle for operating in very difficult terrain. No more than 32 units would be required, costing about $25m.

Why do we need these? Wheels have many advantages but when terrain gets impossible tracks are the only things that will get through. The Bronco can be used for disasters when roads have been destroyed or in places where there never were any roads anyway. It can operate in the Antarctic to the tropics and its extremely low ground pressure means it does not disturb the environment. 

Combat Tractor

The NZ armies HMMEE "combat tractor" would be retained for the Pioneers

Cost of change to the taxpayer

The recovery value of 70 LAV IIIs is estimated at $140m.  Some MAN HX vehicles may also be surplus to requirement. The cost of the Denel turrets $35m, the Okotar vehicles $100m and the Broncos $25m. Ultimately the cost to the taxpayer should be negligible.

Gibbs HSA Licence and Construction

For 15 years New Zealander Alan Gibbs has been involved in developing high speed amphibian technology first in Britain, then in the United States. Despite some excellent marketing and prototype development to say the least the technology has not gained a huge number of orders. Part of the problem is the lack of a foundation customer. Rather than just becoming a customer this site proposes that the Defence Ventures acquires a stake in Gibbs Amphitrucks and establishes a manufacturing plant in New Zealand.

Production would focus on the Humdinga 2 and Phibian truck lines with an initial order of 50 Quadskis, 200 Humdingas and 100 Phibians for the Marines and Rangers.


 The Humdinga 2

 This amphibious SUV can carry five passengers at 100km/h on road and 27 knots on water.



 The Phibian

This amphibious truck can carry 2 tonnes or 15 passengers at 27 knots (50km) and convert to a truck able to reach 80km/h.

Equity would be an essential criteria of any purchase and manufacturing in New Zealand.  Investment would be times in a series of tranches of $50m depending on performance and delivery. It is envisaged that Defence Ventures would recover this investment with the eventual floating of a public company.

2030 Wheeled Combat Vehicle

In future however a replacement vehicle (due from 2025) should have the following features:
  • A 20 tonne weight limit (for air deployment)
  • 6m length, 2.5m width,
  • Multi layer non-corroding hull (as in the Korean K21) with innate STANAG level 3 protection
  • Add on armour such as Rafael Armour Shield P up to STANAG level 6 protection
  • Anti mine V-hull protection
  • Ideally High Speed Amphibian capability to achieve at least 20 knots for 50 nautical miles
  • Diesel generator electric in wheel motors for silent options, regenerative braking
  • Speed 100km/h highway  70km/h flat cross country  60 degree slope all around
  • Range 500km highway 
  • Add on armour including anti RPG
  • Active protection systems 
  • Third party application modules able to be field swapped like the GAZ Vodnik
  • Space for eight passengers, payload of up to 2T (amphibious) 4T on land
  • Semi autonomous operation

Wheeled Transport Vehicles

The Army's 194 MAN HX trucks will probably last to 2030.


The main difference between the current inventory and the proposed one is the sale of 70 LAV IIIs and their replacement with the less threatening, more readily deployed, and more agile Ulan and Cobra II light vehicles.  The remaining LAV IIIs would become closer to armoured cars although retain some passenger capability. The Pinzgauers would be largely replaced over time with Toyota Land Cruisers.