Money is tight for some things on Ardern’s watch – her Defence Minister has signalled a fiscal assault on military spending

Labour  Defence  Minister  Peeni Henare  has  signalled the  government  is  planning  to  trim   the defence  budget.  He says Covid-19 means the Budget is now much tighter and defence will look different under Labour than it did under its coalition with NZ First.   

This  comes as  Australia, New Zealand’s primary ally,  is pursuing a defence strategy aimed at countering the rise of China, while warning that Australia faces regional challenges on a scale not seen since World War II.  

Australia is  re-equipping  its  armed  forces  with a  10-year  budget  of  $A270m. But  for NZ, the  planned $20bn outlay on  new defence equipment  is the latest Covid-19 casualty, with a range of options to scale it down now before the finance minister.

The major investment in a range of new military hardware and upgrade was announced by former Defence Minister and NZ First MP Ron Mark in 2019 .

Henare says that when he got the job last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern “was quite clear that she wanted Labour, us, to put our fingerprint on defence”, but what that looks like would be influenced by Covid-19. Continue reading “Money is tight for some things on Ardern’s watch – her Defence Minister has signalled a fiscal assault on military spending”

King Air 350s might play a role in civil maritime security

Will the RNZAF’s new turbo prop Hawker Pacific King Air 350s fill part of the role identified in the 2019 Defence Capability Plan for civil maritime security?

The King Airs already train the air force’s new navigator and air warfare officers at Ohakea.  Now one has been identified at the Hawker Pacific base in Australia with what resembles a maritime surveillance radome on the lower fuselage.

The 2019 plan says the maritime security strategy will provide

“ … air surveillance capabilities that enhance all-of-Government maritime domain awareness in NZ and the Southern Ocean. The capabilities delivered through this investment will be dedicated to civil surveillance requirements, with Defence support for their delivery and operation.”

The intention is to free up the new Boeing P-8A Poseidons to fly more missions in the South Pacific and further afield. Investment in a range of capabilities will be considered, including satellite surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicles and traditional fixed-wing surveillance aircraft. Continue reading “King Air 350s might play a role in civil maritime security”

There’s much more to the govt’s Defence Capability Plan than the $1bn purchase of C-130J Hercules

Defence Minister Ron Mark has fleshed out more details from the Defence Capability Plan.   These include the government’s approval of spending $56.8m on the Operational and Regulatory Aviation Compliance project from within internal departmental depreciation funding.

This will ensure military aircraft comply with civil and military air traffic management and identification systems, which are necessary to abide by domestic and global regulatory safety and security requirements.

It aligns with the Civil Aviation Authority NZ’s New Southern Sky programme, which will provide new airspace management and air navigation technologies by introducing new standards.  These follow global demands to realise the safety, environmental, social and economic potential of better airspace management.

A project to deliver an Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability is also under way. Mark says this complementary capability will consider smaller manned aircraft, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or satellites, for additional maritime surveillance tasks in NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the wider region.  This will free up the P-8As to fly more missions, in the South Pacific and further afield.

Defence is working with more than 20 agencies to identify cost effective recommendations including Police, Customs, Biosecurity New Zealand, DOC and Fisheries.  The government expects to consider initial options later this year. Continue reading “There’s much more to the govt’s Defence Capability Plan than the $1bn purchase of C-130J Hercules”

Defence allies are expected to welcome NZ’s $20bn Defence Capability Plan

Defence Minister Ron Mark will unveil the latest Defence Capability Plan tomorrow.  Our various contacts expect it to be a significant document affirming an on-going positive approach to NZ defence policy involving expenditure of $20bn out to 2030.

The plan is expected to reaffirm the Pacific Reset programme announced by Foreign Minister Winston Peters – and spelled  out again in his recent Pacific foray.

There will be big-ticket items: a replacement for the 50-year-old RNZAF Hercules, a new dedicated southern ocean offshore patrol vessel and a downgrading of the inshore patrol fleet, new IED-proofed armoured vehicles for the Army and a shift into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both maritime surveillance and tactical use to complement the vast intelligence-gathering resources of the RNZAF’s new Boeing P-8A Poseidons, due in service from 2023. Continue reading “Defence allies are expected to welcome NZ’s $20bn Defence Capability Plan”

Ron Mark is readying to flesh out details of budget boost to defence spending

In a couple of weeks Defence Minister Ron Mark will unveil the next update in the government’s defence capability plan.  This is expected to flesh out some of the basic information provided in last Thursday’s budget, which earmarked $5.06bn for defence, a substantial 23% increase over the budgeted 2018-19 defence allocation of $4.11bn.

A major item is expected to be the replacement for the RNZAF’s Lockheed Hercules.

The Lockheed Martin C-130J is the choice of the NZ Defence Force despite the attractions of other candidates, including the Embraer KC390 turbo-fan and the Japanese Kawasaki C-2.  Both are new and as Point of Order has explained before, the NZDF is reluctant  to choose a new type which isn’t operated by  the country’s closest allies. Continue reading “Ron Mark is readying to flesh out details of budget boost to defence spending”

Defence Force likely to stick with Lockheed Martin when Hercules are replaced

An announcement  for the replacement of the RNZAF’s aged Hercules fleet is close and the chosen candidate is likely to be identified either in the Budget or the coming Defence Capability Plan.

Boeing has made a late attempt to offer the Brazilian Embraer KC390 twin turbofan tactical airlifter, having taken a commercial interest in the project as part of a longer-term plan to develop Embraer’s smaller short-haul airliners.

However, the NZ Defence Force is expected to stay with Lockheed Martin and prefers the C-130J powered by Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines with Dowty R391 composite scimitar propellers. Continue reading “Defence Force likely to stick with Lockheed Martin when Hercules are replaced”