New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has launched the 2016 edition of the country’s Defence Capability Plan, including details of NZ$20bn investments needed through 2030. The Plan, which includes indicative capital cost and schedule bands for major projects, follows the release of the Defence White Paper in June.
In the air domain, the plan addresses the need to maintain avionics compliance on board both the NH90 and the A109 in the early and late 2020s. Enhancements to simulation capabilities are also under consideration. Further investments are also planned for the upgraded Seasprite fleet through 2023 to ensure that they deliver their full suite of capabilities, including in communications equipment and software support.
In the fixed wing transport sector, a project to ensure that satellite and navigation avionics on the two Boeing 757s used for strategic transport meet modern air safety compliance standards will take place prior to 2020. A Future Air Mobility Capability project is considering options for replacing the current tactical and strategic airlift fleets. The project will deliver a strategic airlift capability prepared to deploy, sustain and recover deployed forces and their equipment in support of global military operations, independently or as part of coalition operations. The project will deliver a tactical airlift capability able to move personnel and cargo within the South Pacific, to Antarctica, and in support of coalition operations further afield. The project is expected to deliver new aircraft to the Defence Force during the early-to-mid 2020s.
A project to increase the satellite communications bandwidth available to the six P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft will take place over the next three years, enabling the aircraft to receive and transmit larger amounts of mission data to headquarters elements while airborne. A project to upgrade the underwater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology on the Orion fleet to better detect and deter underwater threats is under contract and will be complete by 2020.
A project is underway to consider options to replace the Orion in the 2020s, when their airframes will reach the end of their life. The Future Air Surveillance Capability project aims to ensure that the Defence Force retains an airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response capability. Investment in remotely piloted aerial systems is also under consideration.