The New Zealand government has announced plans to procure high-mobility utility light vehicles and "protected vehicle mediums".
Defence Minister Ron Mark announced in late June that the cabinet had approved the acquisition of the utility light vehicles and to negotiate the purchase of up to 43 protected vehicle mediums. The two projects form an initial part of a wider Protected Mobility programme, which is worth up to NZD600 million (USD400 million).
Mark said that NZD18.6 million has been allocated to procure the utility light vehicles and to undertake trials and risk reduction work in support of other related procurements under the Protected Mobility programme.
Mark confirmed that for the utility light vehicle requirement the government is considering the acquisition of the MRZR produced by US company Polaris Government and Defense. The commercial "all-terrain" version of this vehicle is in "widespread use" across New Zealand, he said.
"The MRZR will replace current quad bikes and other small vehicles and provide improved mobility, safety, and versatility to our rapidly deployable mobile forces," said Mark.
Mark also indicated that the Bushmaster 4×4 protected mobility platform, produced by Thales Australia, is likely to fulfil the requirement for protected vehicle mediums.
"For this project [the New Zealand Ministry of Defence] is working with the Australian Defence Force and related suppliers to examine whether further co-operation on this class of vehicle is the best way forward for New Zealand," said Mark. "I will bring a firm proposal to [the] cabinet next year."
He added that the protected vehicle mediums project is intended to provide the New Zealand Army with similar levels of capability and protection to the Bushmasters operated by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Special Forces, of which there are believed to be five. Vehicles procured through the project will undertake roles including troop transport, command and communications, and casualty evacuation, said Mark.
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