Defence Minister Andrew Little has unveiled the first 18 Bushmaster protected-mobility vehicles delivered to the New Zealand Army today. The arrival of the Bushmaster fleet represents a significant improvement in capability and protection for defence force personnel at home and abroad.
Defence Minister Andrew Little says the weaponised vehicles will one day save the lives of many who serve New Zealand country on the front lines.
The vehicles come in five different variants to carry out a range of tasks, including mobile communications and command hubs, troop transport and protected ambulances. They will be used on missions here in Aotearoa, around the Pacific and overseas.
“Our soldiers operate in a variety of challenging situations. The Bushmasters are multipurpose vehicles that will boost their ability to help communities, whether on peace and security missions, search and rescue, or natural disaster operations.
“One of the unique things about the Bushmaster vehicles is the bottom of them are designed with a V shape so, if they're deployed to a conflict zone or a place where there’s a risk of explosive devices or IEDs, they are designed to disperse the force of any explosion and that is for the safety of the personnel who will be carried on board.
Lance Corporal Jordan Bremmer of Ngāti Maniapoto says these new vehicles will have a huge impact on how the New Zealand Army moves in hostile territory.
"We don't walk'
“The way the landscape of how conflicts work and disasters work, we don’t walk anywhere anymore. We've definitely moved up there in the world, so troops don’t go anywhere unless there is a vehicle. If the vehicle is not adequate, the troops aren't going, and then we're not doing anything pretty much.”
A total of 43 Bushmaster vehicles have been manufactured for the Defence Force at a cost of $102.9m, part of the $4.5 billion of investment by the government since 2017.
“What is more important about when we procured these vehicles is that they can operate effectively with other forces, particularly Australia, which we work a lot with both in the region and beyond. So this is a vehicle that can work very well with troops from other defence forces around the world,” Little said.
The Bushmaster is an Australian-designed and built vehicle and will replace the army's ageing armoured Pinzgauers that have been in service with the Army since 2005. The new vehicles have a max speed of 100km/h and can fit up to 10 people inside.
Bremmer is excited by the new vehicles. “I think it’s a massive improvement from the armoured Piniz. They're a bit slow. And I’m keen to see if gets us overseas more because they've been tested overseas and it’s a more versatile vehicle.”
The remainder of these vehicles will arrive throughout 2023. They are being tested and certified for use at Trentham Military Camp.