Good news for the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment (NZSAS): Auckland on 5 Sepember announced the signature of a €17.8M contract for an unspecified number of cross-country vehicles from British company Supacat. New Zealand had announced in 2015 that it would buy four different vehicles to replace the ageing fleet of Pinzgauers.
According to the terms of the contract signed on Monday, the Australian branch of Supacat will start delivering an unspecified number of Special Operations Vehicles – Mobility Heavy (SOV-MH) at the end of 2017. These SOV-MHs will be based on the HMT Extenda cross-country vehicle already procured by Australia and Norway and will be entirely manufactured by Supacat Australia, for which this is the first export contract. Parallel to the deliveries “work continues on identifying a number of other vehicles suitable for a range of possible operations for the SAS as part of this project,” New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement on 6 September.
The New Zealand special forces will doubtless be pleased to be rid of the Pinzgauers designed in the 1970s by Austrian company Steyr-Puch. In operation with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) since 2005, the Pinzgauers suffered heavily in the Afghan operation. “This experience, combined with the demands of contemporary missions and equipment, has led to the need to replace the Pinzgauers with a range of more modern vehicles” Brownlee explained.
Designed on an open architecture model, the HMT Extenda can either be configured in a 4×4 or 6×6 version depending on the operational requirement. Thanks to its Cummins 6.7l diesel engine, the HMT Extenda can attain a maximum speed of 120 kph and in its 6×6 version has a maximum range of 800 km. Its modular design means that it can be equipped with a wide range of kits depending on the mission, such as additional armour or a mix of armaments such as machine guns and grenade launchers.
More discreet than its British cousin (whose motto “Who dares wins” it shares), the 1st NZSAS Regiment was born in 1955 from the ashes of the famous Long Range Desert Group, in which many Kiwis served. The regiment made a name for itself during the Vietnam war, and, more recently, in Afghanistan.
Today the regiment has four main roles :
Surveillance and Reconnaissance – operating in complex terrain and difficult situations, often for long periods of time on a range of missions and tasks.
Combatting Terrorism – responding to a terrorist situation in support of the NZ Police at the request of the New Zealand Government.
Direct Action – being a flexible force, it is capable of conducting complex, joint special operations, for short duration strikes to recover designated personnel and material.
Support and Influence – to organise, train and advise host nation military and para-military forces to maintain internal security. It also provides assistance to other New Zealand government agencies in the conduct of national strategic operations.