The Army's tank-like LAV armoured vehicles will go to a war zone for the first time since the Labour Government spent $672 million on the fleet almost five years ago.

Three of the 105 vehicles are going to Afghanistan to be used by the SAS.

It will be only the second time the vehicles have gone on a serious mission. Two were used to assist police during gunman Jan Molenaar's siege in Napier this year.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the vehicles would protect the SAS when travelling, particularly from the sophisticated roadside bombs known as IEDs that are the prime threats to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The SAS is based in Kabul, and the vehicles will be able to manoeuvre easily on the city's streets. Those used in Napier even had indicators.

The vehicles have not been sent to Afghanistan before, because New Zealand troops have mainly been based in the mountainous Bamiyan province where the terrain is too tricky for the eight-wheeled vehicles.

This is why the troops ambushed by the Taleban this year were riding in Toyota Hilux trucks.

Dr Mapp has indicated some of the fleet may be sold and 20-30 swapped for variants with other nations.