Platform and Protection Systems

We provide research and investigative work to support the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF’s) air, naval and land vehicles, and the equipment and weapons used by personnel.

The Platform and Protection Systems (PPS) Group provides expert advice to the NZDF on the selection, acquisition and in-service support of aircraft, land vehicles and naval vessels.

We also advise on personnel protection against ballistic, fragmentation and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, and assess the effectiveness of NZDF weapons.

We provide support to other government organisations including the New Zealand Police, the Civilian Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC).

The PPS Group has four Sections:

  • Platform Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Ballistics and Personnel Protection
  • Concept Engineering and Manufacturing

Learn more by reading our case studies.


Platform Engineering

We advise the NZDF on selecting and supporting equipment and capabilities. The types of research and investigations that we do to inform our advice include:

  • dynamics, handling and performance assessment of aircraft, ships, vehicles and their systems
  • supporting the certification, introduction and maintenance of new and modified aircraft, ships and vehicles
  • data acquisition, including measuring accelerations, vibrations and structural loads and the extraction and interpretation of electronic data to facilitate the re-creation of accident sequences
  • life assessments and structural integrity analysis, including non-destructive inspection development
  • power and energy research and analysis, including investigating alternative energy options for forward operating bases and dismounted troops
  • developing propulsion health monitoring tools and processes to facilitate preventative maintenance and increase engine reliability
  • collaborative research on the effects of volcanic ash on aircraft engines and how to detect the presence of ash in the atmosphere.

Materials Engineering

We give independent advice and technical support in engineering advanced materials so the NZDF can select, maintain, repair and upgrade their aircraft, ships, vehicles and other systems.

Examples of our work include:

  • analysing failures in aircraft, vehicle, vessel structures and equipment to determine the root cause and prevent recurrence
  • researching the significance of various forms of damage and degradation to composite and bonded structures
  • evaluating the performance of paints, anti-fouling and icephobic coatings for naval vessels
  • supporting the testing and evaluation of materials for specialised applications
  • quality assurance testing for fuels and lubricants
  • researching the mechanical and fatigue properties of additively-manufactured polymer and metal structures for use in defence platforms.

Ballistics and Personnel Protection

Personnel protection and an understanding of weapon effects are fundamental to a military force.

To support test programmes and provide technical advice, we have specialist knowledge in ballistics and protection.

Examples of our work include:

  • testing, assessing and advising on specialist ammunition
  • evaluating:
  • weapons, including terminal effects testing
  • protective equipment standards
  • armour and protective equipment
  • building materials against ballistic threats.

We also support New Zealand against chemical, biological, radiological and explosive threats by:

  • assessing the effectiveness of protective measures
  • providing support, advice and research to the government for existing and future threats
  • providing technical support to personnel engaged in handling and disposing of munitions, and threats
  • working together with other nations on chemical, biological, radiological and explosive defence.


Concept Engineering and Manufacture

New concepts often present an opportunity to work smarter.

Examples that we have developed include:

  • the diver signature evaluation system to measure the signature (acoustic, electric, magnetic and seismic disturbance) of mine clearance for divers and their equipment, to improve their safety when disarming mines.
  • the multi-influence sensor for measuring the signature of vessels so that their vulnerability to mines and torpedoes may be managed
  • training devices such as simulators
  • using additive manufacturing to replace conventional manufacturing for small production runs; this results in reduced logistical burden or modified devices that perform more effectively than those manufactured using more conventional methods

We also support innovation schemes to capture ideas from individual service personnel.