New site for SAS to train for battle

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012

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SAS soldiers will be able to practise raiding multistorey buildings, ships, aircraft and oil rigs at a special operations battle training facility to be built in Auckland.

The Government has approved the project and is looking for contractors to build the new facility at Ardmore military training area near the SAS base at Papakura.

The cost of the project is deemed commercially sensitive because contracts have not yet been let, but project manager Paul Conyers said it would run into "the tens of millions".

A document sent to would-be contractors says the facility would allow the military to do live firing combat training and practise close-quarter battle skills in a variety of rooms and structures.

It will include a multistorey building where ground-based and helicopter-borne assault teams can attack simultaneously from top and bottom, clearing each floor as they go.

The training area will have a large enclosed range that will allow soldiers to fire live rounds in all directions.

It will include a helicopter landing area and smaller ranges to simulate operations on ships, aircraft, buses, trains or oil rigs.

The complex would be designed to train for all sorts of scenarios, ranging from securing a building to dealing with hostage situations.

As well as live-fire exercises - which, Mr Conyers said, would have to be carefully choreographed to ensure the safety of those involved - it would also be set up for simulated firing, with soldiers firing blanks and pyrotechnics to replicate the sound, sight and even the smell of a real battle.

The new training complex will replace obsolete 30-year-old facilities at Papakura.

A building contract is expected to be signed in May. Detailed designs are scheduled to be completed in November, with construction set to start next December. The project is scheduled for completion in April 2015.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, who has declined to release project estimates till the design and contract negotiations are competed, said it would provide elite military forces with a realistic, flexible, multi-use live-fire training facility.

"Our special forces will now have a training facility of a similar standard to that found in countries like Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom."

It would also be available for other agencies, including specialist police units, he said.

Contact Hank Schouten
Property reporter
Email: hank.schouten@dompost.co.nz

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