Orions: New Zealand’s Most Useful Defence Asset
The Orion aircraft are perhaps the most useful piece of equipment that the New Zealand Defence Force owns, said ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble.
“The Orions in their present state are well past their used by date. In spite of excellent maintenance programs they have an embarrassing lack of reliability for planes in a national airforce.
“The Orion proposal would have seen the aircraft substantially upgraded and gain a significantly higher capacity. The Orion is the workhorse of the New Zealand Defence Force and is used for a wide range of military and civilian tasks.
“It is ironical that the Government appears to have turned down, what all three armed forces branches would agree, is the top priority defence purchase.
“This latest decision will concern not just New Zealand’s defence community but also our allies. The coalition Government’s decision clearly demonstrates their lack of commitment to ensuring a defence force with the capability to work alongside our traditional allies.
“One is left with the impression that this Government does not have a co-ordinated, thought through defence policy.
“It appears that our defence spending is being driven by the immediate needs of East Timor rather than New Zealand’s long term strategic interests. Hopefully New Zealand defence personnel will have withdrawn from East Timor before the armoured cars go onto service,” said Hon Richard Prebble.