NEW ZEALAND’S Minister of Defence, Mr Phil Goff, announced release of the third update on the country’s ten-year Long Term Development Plan (LTDP) for defence on October 17, including seven new defence acquisition projects. However, he noted that the significantly higher-than-expected cost of acquiring eight NH90 helicopters for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), ordered in July (see New Zealand Orders Eight NH90s, September, p27), left only NZ$1 billion (US$664 million) for other LTDP projects.
One of the seven new defence capital projects relating to the RNZAF is the examination of options to replace the five leased King Air 200s used for advanced pilot training. These need to be replaced by 2008, and a leased solution is again expected to be considered. Under previously-announced plans, the RNZAF’s Boeing 757s will be upgraded, the C-130H Hercules fleet will undergo a service life-extension programme and the P-3K Orion fleet is to be fitted with new mission, communication and navigation systems.
Upgrading the taxiways at Ohakea Air Base is also to be undertaken, together with other infrastructure improvements, and early next year the Ministry of Defence will begin a study into the possibility of consolidating all RNZAF operations at the base.