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What sort of vehicles will the NZDF need?

The NZDF's current fleet of operational and utility vehicles are shown below

 Vehicle Notes
The $7m NZLAV weighs 20 tonnes making it hard to deploy. It is not amphibious, it only carries seven soldiers (although Kiwi soldiers may have a toone of extra kit compared to the usual grenadier) its armour is bullet-proof but that's about it and its armament is limited to the 25mm cannon which makes it OK for beating up infantry, helicopters, and unarmoured vehicles but puts it at a disadvantage against any serious Armoured Fighting Vehicle with a missile, 30mm or 40mm cannon (which is most of them). Certainly not a vehicle to fight a BMP-3 with.
Although three were sent to Afghanistan the cost was horrendous. This is more a vehicle for exercises than actual deployment. On the other hand it does have its uses. Keeping all 105, however, makes no sense.
Favoured by off-roaders everywhere the $289K per unit Pinzgauer is a useful but expensive all-terrain van. Technologically it is now trailing behind other designs (such as Duro III) and is widely available second-hand (for much less). On the other hand you won't find a Pinzgauer dealer in every town and logistical support is difficult. The armoured version of the Pinzgauer might stop the odd rifle bullet but its not a vehicle built for armour and its performance against improvised explosive devices and mines is unlikely to be good. Frankly these vehicles are already showing their age and are unlikely to last 20 years.
The $675k MAN/Rheinmetall HX/SX series trucks are used by Britain, Denmark and a host of other countries. Rugged, with excellent cross-country performance and add-on armour this is the sort of truck the NZDF needs. Recommended by the previous editions of these pages and bought for a sensible price (given civilian trucks cost only a little more) I can only endorse the Army's choice.
The only problem with the trucks in the context of the existing NZDF is only HMNZS Canterbury can deploy them.
Using the Toyota Hilux in Afghanistan spoke volumes about the failure of previous acquisition processes to consider the basic logistical needs for vehicles in foreign deployment situations. The Pinzgauers cost too much to transport to Afghanistan (except for the SAS who hitched a ride on an American C-17 strategic airlifter) and couldn't be supported, By contrast the Hilux is everywhere. Local shops can support it and they are relatively cheap. The only problem is they provide bugger-all protection to troops in harms way.


The main lesson of all of this is that it is pointless to buy vehicles you can't deploy and support outside of New Zealand. This can be assisted by improving our transport aircraft and ships but it also requires a more integrated approach to acquisitions in the first place.

Assignment of existing vehicles to proposed units

 Pinzgauers NZSAS, Rangers, MPs, Pioneers, Motorised, Biodefence
 HX Motorised, Pioneers, Biodefence
 Hilux Pioneers, MPs, Biodefence, Rangers, Marines

However over time there will be a need for replacing and expanding the vehicle fleet.


The LAV III could be usefully adapted for the following roles:

 Unit Adaption Purpose
 MotorisedReplace 25mm turret with a long range laser guided anti-tank/helicopter missile system on 4 vehicles
 In the unlikely event that NZDF motorised forces are engaged by anti-armour ground forces this would provide something to strike back with.
 PioneersReplace the 25mm cannon with an OTO Melara 105mm Hitfact turret on 4 vehicles.
 The 105mm is normally a tank gun but nobody in their right mind fights tanks with LAVs. The purpose is for destroying bunkers at relatively close range.
 PioneersReplace the 25mm cannon with a long range engineering crane on 4 vehicles.
For defusing IEDs and mines.
Biodefence and Pioneers
Replace the 25mm cannon with a heavy lift crane on 4 vehicles.For removing barriers or heavy contaminated materials from under armoured protection.
Biodefence and Military Police
Replace the 25mm cannon with a water cannon on 4 vehicles
For decontamination spraying or riot control.
 RangersRemove 25mm cannon and install remote control radio systems
This would allow the Rangers to operate UAVs or remote ground vehicles from under armour.

This would also make 24 25mm LAV turrets available for the high speed patrol catamarans.

Future Vehicles

General requirements for NZDF vehicles
  1. Deployability (they are no use in their garage)
  2. Reliability (they are no use if they're always in the shop, too)
  3. Durability (they need to be able to take harsh treatment)
  4. Protection (they should provide appropriate protection)
  5. Maneuverability (they should be able to provide options to go around resistance)

Then there are extra requirements for different units

 Unit Capability
 SAS Speed and firepower
 Rangers IED and sniper protection, flexible weaponry
 Military Police
 Room for prisoners, IED and sniper protection
 Marines Amphibious capability
 Biodefence Overpressure and air seals
 Pioneers Room for tools and materials, IED and sniper protection

It is notable that IED and sniper protection and amphibious capability are two needs not well met by the existing vehicles.

Possible candidates

There are a huge range of vehicles on the market but I have narrowed these down considerably to those which meet the overall requirements.

 Vehicle Notes No
 Singapore Kinetics Bronco
Based on the Swedish Bv206 Hagglunds vehicle the Bronco is made under licence in Singapore. The vehicle weighs 15 tonnes, is amphibious (5km/h) and can manage almost any terrain. The ground pressure of the vehicle is very light (less than a soldier's foot) making it useful in sensitive terrain (eg Antarctica). British Warthogs have sustained IED attacks of up to 50kg of TNT (5 will destroy a house). It carries five tonnes or 4 personnel in the front or 10 passengers in the rear. The British bought 100 vehicles (dubbed Warthogs) for use in Afghanistan for 150m in 2008.
These vehicles would be useful for the Pioneers, Biodefence, Marines and Military Police battalions.
There are no likely strategic problems acquiring them from Singapore (as opposed to the more finicky Swedes).
 Okotar Cobra

The Turkish Okotar Cobra is a 6.2 tonne  light armoured vehicle configured with a deep V hull for anti IED and sniper protection and swimming (at 5km/h). The vehicle is built for swift actions and raids but can carry eight personnel or be fitted with a range of weaponry. At 6.2 T the vehicle is readily airlifted. Armament is an auto grenade launcher or machine gun.
While they are not as comfortable for long range patrols as the Australian Bushmaster but they weight half as much and are far more deployable.
These vehicles would be useful for the Marines, Rangers, and Military Police Battalions.
There are no likely strategic problems acquiring them from Turkey.
 Gibbs Humdinga
The 2.7T Gibbs Humdinga is a high speed (60km/h) amphibian worth keeping an eye on. The vehicle is still under development and is not widely sold. While the vehicle has no armour its speed is a very effective protection and for units not anticipating problems in the Pacific Islands its ability to island hop would be very useful. These vehicles could be deployed by NZSAS, Marines, Rangers and Military Police.
The vehicle is a civilian craft and therefore not bound by Congressional arms limitations.

 Gibbs Quadski
The Gibbs Quadski is a highspeed (60km/h) amphibious Quad/Jetski. Smaller than the Humdinga it is more suited to lower levels of hazard where troops are patrolling without any expectation of serious trouble. The vehicle is nominally on sale but finding dealers actually promoting it is difficult. These vehicles could be deployed by NZSAS, Marines, Rangers and Military Police.
The vehicle is a civilian craft and therefore not bound by Congressional arms limitations.

Future Vehicles

In the longer term the replacement of the NZLAV and Pinzgauers suggest a vehicle with the following additional attributes:


 Vehicle Notes
The GAZ Vodnik is an ugly Russian armoured utility vehicle with the remarkable ability to change its skin. The superstructure of the whole vehicle can be replaced in the field allowing it to transform to fit its purpose. If the Russians were a tad less hostile to the West this vehicle would have replaced the Cobra on the list above.
The Finnish Patria Advanced Modular Vehicle is another vehicle capable of being repurposed through modules (although not as flexibly as the Vodnik). This vehicle even impressed the South African Defence Force and given their own very capable AFV construction industry that is saying something.

Low weight, high speed, amphibious

The key problem for deployability from New Zealand is getting a vehicle to where it is needed. The Israeli Merkava 4 tank and Namel Infantry Fighting Vehicle are remarkably protective but they weight 60 tonnes each. That may work fine in the desert but its not much use in the Pacific.

Ideally a New Zealand armoured vehicle would not weigh much more than seven tonnes. As such it would have to rely on speed and manouver for survival.

Further development of the Cobra style vehicle to incorporate High Speed Amphibian technology would be a logical step. There is definitely a market for such vehicles in places such as South East Asia, South America and Africa.

One peculiar AFV is the Korean K21

The manufacturers claim the vehicle can resist the 30mm APFSDS-T shells of the Russian BMP-2 over the frontal arc which is remarkable because the whole vehicle is made from a fibreglass/ceramic composite. How it will respond to heavier shells is not known however the benefit is that the 25 tonne vehicle floats and is fully amphibious. So although the vehicle is not small it appears tanks could be built of glass, a technology New Zealand is reasonably good with. The K21 cost $80m to develop.


As almost everyone knows the future of vehicles is electric or fuel-electric.

The BAE Systems RG-35 is one of the latest AFVs to market and is hybrid ready


My proposal for acquisition is for the Arsenal to enter into a research and development partnership with Gibbs, Okotar, BAE Systems South Africa and a NZ engineering firm to develop a long-term development plan for a light-weight, high-speed, mine-protected, modular light armoured vehicle with a weight of about 7 tonnes. The Koreans spent $8m per year over ten years. This does not have to be expensive.