The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a Request for Proposal for services related to the design, build and installation of communications and digital systems, which will connect the new Bushmaster vehicle fleet for years to come. The Request for Proposal is asking for a Prime System Integrator who can deliver and support the communications and digital systems, from design through to installation, troop training, and equipment disposal. Some systems are being purchased through a separate contract, and will be integrated as part of this process. A phased approach is being taken to kit out the fleet by 2026. Some vehicles have had radios installed, which are in use at Waiouru Military Camp for driver and commander training.
“The new digital and communications systems will ensure New Zealand Army personnel can work anytime and anywhere, on domestic exercises as well as on multinational deployments with international partners. The systems will help to keep New Zealand Army personnel safe, with the latest technologies providing real-time digital maps, secure radios and instant messaging. They will advance a soldier’s situational awareness, support their decision making, enable information collection, and improve secure communication between people and other vehicles,” said Huntley Wright, Assistant Secretary Capability Delivery, Ministry of Defence.
The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle or Infantry Mobility Vehicle is an Australian-built four-wheel drive armoured vehicle. The Bushmaster was primarily designed by the then government-owned Australian Defence Industries (ADI), and is currently produced by Thales Australia following their acquisition of ADI. The Bushmaster is currently in service with the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Army, British Army, Japan Ground Self Defense Force, Indonesian Army, Fiji Infantry Regiment, Jamaica Defence Force, New Zealand Army and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Transportation of infantry, incorporating full protection from small arms fire, was the primary role for which the Bushmaster was designed; infantry would dismount from the vehicle.
5 Bushmasters operated by the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) designated as the Special Operations Vehicle – Protected Heavy (SOV-PH). A memorandum of sale had been under negotiation with the Australian Defence Force for the transfer of the Bushmasters in 2017. In 2018, the NZ Ministry of Defence reported it had been signed. The Bushmaster vehicles will provide our personnel with high levels of blast and ballistic protection. They are designed with a V hull, which redirects blasts out from under the vehicle, saving lives. In July 2020, the New Zealand Ministry of Defence ordered 43 NZ5.5 variants with deliveries expected in 2022. There are 43 Australian-made armoured vehicles in the fleet, which come in five different variants including protected ambulances, troop transport, and mobile communications and command hubs.