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Transport Systems

What does our military use to deploy where it's needed?

Sea Transport

For a complete background on the design visit: 

For a Defence Ministry report on Canterbury's acquisition and shortcomings see

HMNZS Canterbury

$177 million

estimated life 25 years until obsolescence


currently seeking replacement


from Wikipedia

from Wikipedia

HMNZS Canterbury

Design Tenix
Manufacture  Merwede Shipyard
Standard Displacement:   9,000 tonnes
Length Overall:                 131 metres           
Beam:                               23.4 metres                 
Draught:                            5.4 m 
Speed:                              19 knots
Range:                               8,000 nmi at 16 kn 
Complement:                      53 +21 Govt + 35 trainees
                                250 passengers
25mm M242 Bushmaster automatic cannon 
2 x 55-tonne (45T capacity) medium landing Craft
4 NH90 or Seasprite helicopters

The indicative cargo would encompass (as one possible loadout): 14 Pinzgauer Light Operational Vehicles, 16 NZLAV light armoured vehicles, 7 Unimog trucks, 2 ambulances, 2 flat bed trucks, 7 vehicle trailers, 2 rough terrain forklifts, 4 ATV-type vehicles and up to 33 20 ft TEU containers.

DATA source RNZN, Wikipedia
Canterbury availability 257 days 136 at sea
Endeavour availability 197 days 119 at sea

Operating Costs
The 2011 Vote Defence Budget appropriation was $105 million in annual operating costs including depreciation and capital charge. This includes both Canterbury and HMNZS Endaevour (our Navy's most efficient ship). 

Comparative Purchases: The Singapore Government has (so far) built four Endurance Class Landing platform docks. Thailand has ordered one for S$200 million. The Indonesian Navy has ordered four Makassar class landing platform docks for US$150 million (ie US$37.5m each) from Daesun Shipbuilding & Engineering Co South Korea. Both of these ships are much larger than HMNZS Canterbury.

Australian Example: The Australians cannily bought HMS Largs Bay from the financially strapped British Royal Navy for A$100 million last year (2010), not bad when she cost US$768 million. The Australians are also heavily involved in developing fast catamarans for the US Littoral Ship Programme.

Latest technology: The Endurance Class is pretty much state of the art in this field. Capable with a small crew for reduced operating costs. The Australians have however done very well by snapping up Largs Bay as this too is a ship with a small crew and is double the size of the Endurance ships.
Comment: After managing to deeply insult the Army with the abortive HMNZS Charles Upham (They were so cheap they had her loaded with a commercial cargo to offset her $14.5m purchase price), the Navy was finally given some money to get itself a decent sealift ship and some vessels to patrol our EEZ (rather than play Navy with the Australians). It wasn't really enough so they bought an inshore ro-ro ship and insisted on standing on legal documents and specifications that it be capable of sealift in the Pacific. The ship is to undergo an expensive refit at BAE's expense to bring it up to spec. It can, but only when conditions at sea are like calm like the waters it was originally designed for.
If you've ever wondered why the BlueBridge ferry the Straitsman (foreground)
looks suspiciously like HMNZS Canterbury its because she was built to the same design at the same shipyard (Merwede) as the M/S Dueodde.
HMNZS Canterbury is small and cheap (though not as cheap as the Makassar class), and not exactly built for the Pacific ocean but she was a step in the right direction.She does at least enable the airforce and army to deploy which is more than most of the other systems we operate can do. She will be around for some time. The replacement for the HMNZS Endeavour will probably be based on the assumption that the Navy needs to support its combat force. As the Makassar example shows a bit of shopping around and imagination means it may be possible to achieve more than this.

Air Transport


The RNZAF operates two long range air transport aircraft: the C-130H and the Boeing 757-200 Combi.
For a useful background on the B757-200 see Boeing's page and the RNZAF programme page
x 2



picture: Flight Global (click to visit)
Design and Manufacture: Boeing
2 x Rolls Royce RB211535E4/4B 
Payload (max)               22T
Range (max payload)   3,700nm
Range (max) 4,100nm
Fuel (max): 43T
Min Runway: 1,657m
Cruising speed 460 kts

source: RNZAF and Boeing

Operating costs: Fortunately the economics of operating commercial jet-liners is scarcely a secret. The fuel cost of a full range flight for the B757 is US$43,000. This article says the cost per flight hour @US$50/hr for maintenance is around US$70 rising 22.5% for second cycle checks US$86. So maintenance adds about $1000 to a full range flight. Flight crew are another $1000. A full-range fully-loaded mission (eg 22T to the Solomon Islands and return) would therefore cost US$45,000 or US$5,000 per flight hour. This suggests that the aircraft costs about US$12 per nautical mile at maximum payload to operate. The 757 is a well-regarded low-cost jet transport aircraft and these numbers show why.
Comparative Purchase: Not too many Governments operate the B757-200s. Most nations use jets such as this as VIP transport's for the head of state. The other option is as in-flight refuelling aircraft where the Airbus A330 MRTT (Multirole transport and tanker) as used by Australia, Britain, or the longer ranged B767 Multi-mission tanker transport is used by (after much political footwork by Boeing) the US and Columbia. No 757 tankers are operated by anyone. Jet tankers based on A330 or 767 airframes are very expensive and usually cost around US$200 million each.  The price of new Boeings are listed (by Boeing) here. The B757 is no longer sold. This Boeing media release however suggests the list price in 2003 was US$82 million or then current exchange rates NZ$141 million. It appears RNZAF got a good deal.

Australian Example: Australia operates the A330 MRTT. This is a far more flexible and capable aircraft but also hugely more expensive.

C130-H (Hercules)

Useful background on the C-130 and the refit programme is available from the RNZAF  while wider information is available from  Wikipedia at



$226m for life extension to 2015.


Picture Wikipedia
Design and manufacture: Lockheed Martin
Engines:4 x Allison T56-A-15 engines
Payload (Max): 17.25T (USAF 19T)*
Max Range: 4,000nm
Max Range at max payload: 1050nm
Typical Range: 2,200nM with 12.7T payload
Max fuel: 28.54T 
Min Runway (land): 914m
Cruising speed: 300 kts

source: RNZAF and FAS and USAF

*The LAV III weighs 19.8T but can be knocked down.With enough grease and grunting they can be loaded on a C1-30 but won't get far. 
Operating costs: The aviation gas cost of US$2,141 per hour (max fuel cost divided by time to fly max range while empty) plus the logistic cost provided by FAS which would add another US$1,702.  That would bring the cost to US$3,872 per flight hour which squares with anecdotal evidence. This would suggest a C-130H flight 1,810nm to the Solomon's (with 12.7T of payload) would cost US$23,500 in fuel there, US$13,000 back and US$24,000 per hour in logistic costs (US$60,500 total), another good reason for using the B757.
NB: Flight Global claims the operating costs of US aircraft has been obscured but has been made available by Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information. His article by refers to a spreadsheet which puts the cost of the USAF operating the C-130H at 2010US$17,013 per flight hour. This doesn't square very well with any other source I can find and looks like the (reliable) FAS logistic cost but out by a factor of ten.
Comparative Purchase: The C130 is the benchmark for all military airlift in the world. That doesn't mean that the C130 is the best military airlifter anymore but everyone uses them.
Australian Example: Australia is upgrading its C130H's to the C130J at huge expense. They have also bought four C-17 Globemasters for US$373 million each.

Notes on airlift

Latest Airlift Technology: The unit cost of the C130J has gone through the roof. This USAF appropriation document shows the cost of a single aircraft is $72 million. Meanwhile the new Airbus A400M, which until recently was regarded as the C130Js most serious competition has suffered numerous delays and is also skyrocketing in price to 136 million per unit.
This has provided a huge opportunity for the BRIC nations who sense an opportunity as nations such as ours seek to replace their ancient C130s. Most of these aircraft will sell for considerably less than the western aircraft.

Brazil's Embraer has the KC-390 which doubles as a tanker as well
Russia's United Aircraft Corporation is sprucing up the venerable IL-76 to the IL-476 which is far larger than the C-130 but costs the same to buy.
India's HAL and Russia's Irkut Corporation have a joint venture to develop the MRTA although it hasn't got far.
Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries has developed the C-2 (although Japan does not sell arms) which has had technical problems but will be delivered.
The Ukraine's Antonov had restarted the AN70 project with orders from Russia and has the new AN178 variant of the 148 both of which have had crashes but which have a close following in the West. But the near-war between Russia and the Ukraine probably means that Antonov has really only two choices: Liquidation or shifting to Russia.

Meanwhile this 2005 study suggests the glut of 747-400Fs could be a useful basis for Australia's long range air transport.

Comment: The C130 extension programme costing taxpayers $226 million is intended to keep the aircraft flying until at least 2015. The 757s may have been a good buy at the time but they are an older design and by 2020 will be quite old. Airlift is probably the most important military function the defence force operates. It is the difference between help here and timely help where it's needed. It deserves more attention than it has had so far. Fortunately the market is opening up new opportunities.

Land Transport

Unimog U1700L 5-tonne truck

The Army has a useful run-down on the Unimog here.

x 400 est


Seeking replacement

Picture NZDF

Design and manufacture:Mercedes
Design year: 1976
Engine: OM352A 124 kW 5.6L diesel
Top speed: 90km/h
Payload (Max): 5,128kg or 16 troops or 4.9T water
Max Range: 625km
Gross Vehicle Weight:12 Tonnes
Height: 3.14m
Length: 6.7m

source: NZ Army  Wikipedia Trackiv Force Unimog Center

Operating Costs: Discussion groups such as this one suggest the operational costs of 'mogs is pretty high. Tyres are $2K per set. This site claims the fuel efficiency is 20-22L/100km which means the fuel load is around 65L or about $100 at current prices. So a basic cost of tyres and fuel might be around $8.50/km. The machines are now over 20 years old and parts and labour costs can be expected to be escalating. This site shows the maintenance cycles are 4000km and 16000km. At a guess we might estimate around $10/km as a general rule of-thumb operating cost, not including depreciation. If we take a model load of 100T for delivery in ten hours over a distance of 100km at an average speed of 50km/h (hills, winding roads etc) then 33 vehicles loaded with 5T would be required to make two return trips and one one-way trip for a total of 500km. So the cost is 33 x 500 x $10 = $165,000 (excluding depreciation) to move 100 tonnes 100km (100x100=10,000) or $16.50 per tonne-kilometre.
It is fairly obvious that increasing the payload would hugely improve the efficiency of the system. Even with the same fuel efficiency a truck with a 10T payload would halve the cost, while a 20T payload ( and the Rheinmetall SXOshkosh HEMTT  Tatra 815-7 can carry that) would reduce it even further.
Deployability: The Unimog is extremely mobile. Its off-road agility is nothing less than legendary. The only thing it doesn't do is swim. But getting it anywhere else in the world is not so easy. The mog doesn't fit in a C-130 which means it depends entirely on civilian shipping or the HMNZS Canterbury for deployment. That means that for the purposes of deploying self-sustaining Kiwi forces the Unimog is not particularly useful.
Operational Life: In 2009 Janes Defence Review reported:" The Unimogs were originally purchased between 1982 and 1986 and, at that time, had an anticipated life of 15 years. The current programme will further extend the life of the vehicles by 15 years while reducing the fleet's operating costs. According to Brigadier Rick Ottaway, New Zealand's Deputy Chief of Staff, the Unimog refurbishment is viewed "as an effective and efficient use of resources." The fleet "had provided excellent service" he said, adding, "an inexpensive life extension programme now avoids the capital cost of new equipment." The refurbishment allows the New Zealand Army medium vehicle replacement programme to be slipped until at least 2010."

This author has noted a number of trucks in the Army fleet which are not Unimogs and it seems the Army has begun to acquire replacement vehicles directly. For some reason there seems to be little reference to this in official information released to date.
Comparative Purchases: In 2005 the Danish Army Material Command (DAMC) signed an agreement regarding the delivery of trucks to the Danish armed forces.
The first order, concerning 143 vehicles of the HX medium mobility and SX high mobility range in 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 configuration. 20 of the trucks will have an armoured cab to increase protection for the soldiers. The cab know as the Integrated Armour Cabin and developed in conjunction with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) offers Level 3 protection. The total order of 200 vehicles had a market value in 2005 of US$80m. In 2005 The British Army placed an order for 5000-odd MAN trucks and in 2006 added another 2000 to the order. The total was GBP1.3bn or US$200,000 for a basic vehicle. MAN subsequently formed a joint venture with Rheinmettal for its military truck business.

MAN HX Truck Family

x 150 est



Payload capacity 6 -12t
Maximum road speed 90 km/h
Range ~ 800 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step ~ 0.6 m
Trench ~ 0.6 m
Fording 1.2 m

Replacements  In October 2011 the Dominion reported the Army was planning to spend $500 million on replacing the Unimogs. At some point this project should appear on the Ministry of Defence website. The NZHerald  ( May 16 2013) reported the NZ Army was spending NZ$135m on 200 Rheinmetal MAN HX and SX trucks. The army seems to have got a good deal and is taking advantage of the currenly high NZ dollar.
Latest Technology: The latest technology in trucks is the OshKosh unmanned ground vehicle which is a self-driving military truck. OshKosh also makes a version of its HEMTT truck with ProPulse diesel electric hybrid so that it can be used to generate a 120kW power supply as needed. 


The army details the Pinzgauer light operational vehicle here

Pinzgauer II

x 321



Picture NZDF

Pinzgauer II 718  (6x6) and 716 (4x4) 
Design  Steyr-Daimler-Puch
Manufacture: BAE Systems
Design year: 1971
Engine:VW 65 kW 2.5L diesel
Top speed: 100km/h
Payload (Max): 2,400kg or 12 troops or can tow 1.8T trailer (off-road) or 5T (on-road).
Max Range: 400km
Gross Vehicle Weight:4.9 Tonnes
Height: 2.045m
Length: 5.3m

sources: Wikipedia 

Operating Costs: The stated fuel efficiency of the Pinzgauer is meant to be 16.6L/100km. Fuel tank options are 80L, 125L or 145L, Gear box problems afflicted the fleet when it was first delivered but these problems appear to be solved now. It would be wrong to assess the Pinzgauer as a logistics carrier because it is a general purpose vehicle. However it is interesting to compare with other such vehicles. The Humvee H2 fuel economy is around 24L/100km , while the Toyota Landcruiser 70 (used in Australia) uses 11.9L per 100km. The LandRover Defender 110 has fuel economy of 11.1L/100km (averages urban and open road). So the Pinzgauer is not as thirsty as a Humvee but considerably more thirsty than a Landrover or Landcruiser. The overall economic question however is, is operating 321 of these vehicles compared to say 500 Landcruisers/rovers (which they replaced) actually operationally cheaper because the Pinzgauer is bigger and carries more?
Deployability: The Pinzgauer is eminently deployable due to its low height and light weight. Two will fit in the cargo hold of the C-130H.
Comparative Purchases: The Australian Army has a mix of Landcruisers and the much larger (12T)  Thales Bushmaster which is a patrol vehicle designed less for scrabbling up muddy streambeds and more for carrying troops long distances through the desert in comfort and relative safety from snipers and smaller improvised explosive devices. The Bushmaster costs A$562,878-A$589,182 while the Pinzgauers cost taxpayers an average of NZ$289,719 each. The British army has a liquorice allsorts approach to light operational vehicles including the Swiss made Mowag Duro from the same people who designed the LAV. The Duro is hugely expensive at around $840,000.
Latest Technology: The US Army is spending a fortune replacing the Hummer with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. The Australians are buying the Hawkei tactical vehicle from Thales. Israel has already developed the Sandcat which has been adopted by Oshkosh. All of these systems stress IED survivability and smaller patrols. The Russians have the GAZ Tigr.  For larger vehicles we have already seen the Mowag Duro but this doesn't offer much value for money. There are a lot of similar European vehicles in this space but none are particularly notable. More interesting is the Russian modular vehicle, the GAZ Vodnik, and the Turkish Otokar Cobra both of which are amphibious and armoured.
Perhaps the most interesting latest technology is the Gibbs Technology Phibian which is highly amphibious, which could be pretty useful in the Pacific, assuming it isn't just a publicity stunt.