'Battle Lab' susses out new military gear

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:44 30/06/2014
NZDF

Having the right equipment is vital for the Army. To make sure this happens it runs what are known as 'battlelabs' which enable the Army to test equipment it might need in the future.

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It looks like something out of a Mad Max movie and the army is thinking about buying them so infantry soldiers don't get tired walking into battle.

The army's Battle Lab group is testing an "ultra light tactical vehicle" - a military souped up version of a farmer's all-terrain vehicle.

Battle Lab is also testing a "remote weapon station" which allows for machine guns to be installed on top of military vehicles and fired while the operator remains safely inside.

Battle Lab manager Hayden Robinson says in an army-made video that the group has been set up to test assorted weapons they might one day want to buy.

"We haven't decided if we want these systems yet," he says.

So they "spend a little bit of money up front" to explore the systems so that if they do want to buy them they know what they are taking about.

The little four-seater 88 horsepower 875 cc vehicle they are testing is made by the US Polaris Corporation and they sell, in a civilian version, for around $27,000.

Robinson says they would probably be good in the South West Pacific because they can be rapidly deployed.

He said infantry soldiers these days have to carry heavy weapon systems and they got tired if they had to carry them a long way.

On social media army veterans have mocked Battle Lab's latest tests, saying the equipment is already well tested overseas.

There was support though for getting the Polaris system. The vehicles could easily be parachuted out from C130 Hercules or airlifted in by helicopters.

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