The New Zealand government has approved the purchase of 43 Bushmaster armoured vehicles, set to be produced in Bendigo, Victoria, by Thales Australia, the Australian subsidiary of French defense technology conglomerate Thales Group.
The contract is worth a reported $75 million. Thales Australia claims more than 50 Australian businesses will benefit from this decision, which comes as the NZ government plans to modernise its fleet of dated Army defence vehicles.
NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark said the "age and lack of protection" offered by the current Pinzgauer fleet resulted in the decision, adding that the "need to replace the Army's fleet of land vehicles was outlined in last year's Defence Capability Plan". The Pinzgauer is an army utility vehicle which is now almost 50 years old.
The Bushmaster is a modern 'multi-role protected vehicle' that was originally designed in Australia in the mid 1990s. As an 11-tonne, 4x4 armoured vehicle with a 4-tonne payload and carrying capacity of up to 10 passengers, it is currently in service in six countries across four continents.
It comes in a wide variety of formats, including troop carrier, command, support, weapons deployment, and ambulance, among others.
The NZ government has ordered five different variations of Bushmaster, including versions that introduce new capabilities to its Army.
Deliveries are expected to commence in late 2022, with the new fleet of vehicles planned to reach operational introduction status by late 2023.