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Newsflash: Defence Purchasing Decisions

The Air Force's Orion "Sirius" upgrade is off but 105 Canadian APC's and more than 1800 new radios are being bought for the NZ Army and RNZAF in defence decisions announced in Parliament this afternoon.

At 2pm Defence Minister Mark Burton made the announcements in a Ministerial Statement to the house.

The new Armed Personnel Carriers are as expected the LAV III's and will cost around $600 million. The 1800 odd new radios will cost $124 million. Mr Burton said the cost of project Sirius had blown out to over $500 million and that a decision had been required on acceptance of an offer from the supplier this week.

National's Wayne Mapp described the decisions as an "army only" defence policy. Mr Mapp said the policy was driven by the "extremist" views of the Green Party. He also said he expected it would create a morale crisis in the Navy and the Air Force and would upset New Zealand's allies.

Jim Anderton replied to Mr Mapp saying that the National Government never provided the funds to equip the army properly. "The National Government should be ashamed at the level of equipment we found in the NZ Army", he said.

(See http://www.scoop.co.nz for reaction to the decision as it comes in this afternoon...)

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