The New Zealand Government has approved two projects to procure high-mobility utility light vehicles and protected vehicle mediums to replace the existing vehicles that have reached the end of their life.

The cabinet decision marks the beginning of the first phase of the Protected Mobility project, which is intended to replace the New Zealand Defence Force’s operational Pinzgauer and Unimog vehicles.

New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “Vehicles that protect our people when they move around in hostile environments are vital. Our current fleet of vehicles have reached the end of their life and it’s time to replace them.”

The defence ministry is contemplating the procurement of the Polaris MRZR for the Light Vehicles.

Polaris MRZR, which is produced by Polaris Industries, is a militarised version of the side-by-side all-terrain vehicle.

The vehicle has the capability to carry up to four troops and cargo. Additionally, it can be airlifted by aircraft and helicopters.

Mark noted that the MRZR is expected to replace existing quad bikes and other small vehicles.

The procurement of these vehicles aims to provide greater mobility, safety and versatility to the country’s rapidly deployable mobile forces.

Under the second project, the ministry will seek to buy up to 43 protected vehicle mediums to provide the Army with similar levels of capability and protection delivered by the Bushmaster vehicles to the Special Forces.

Mark added: “For this project, defence is working with the Australian Defence Force and related suppliers to examine whether further cooperation on this class of vehicle is the best way forward for New Zealand. I will bring a firm proposal to cabinet next year.”

The defence ministry is looking for vehicles that can perform operational tasks such as troop transport, command and communications, and casualty evacuation.

The government has set aside NZD18.6m ($12.49m) for the procurement of high-mobility utility light vehicles.

The funding will also be used to conduct trials and risk reduction work to support future procurements under the Protected Mobility project.

Mark further stated that the objective of these trials is to test the vehicle performance and see if the vehicles support the country’s Network Enabled Army programme.

The Protected Mobility project, which aims to improve the New Zealand Defence Force’s land mobility capability, will be carried out in three phases.