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Rebuilding Capability Of New Zealand Defence

Rebuilding The Capability Of The New Zealand Defence Force

The Government has agreed to fund major new Defence acquisitions which will provide new mobility, fire support and communications equipment for the New Zealand Defence Force, the Minister of Defence Mark Burton announced today.

"Two major purchases have been approved. The Army will get new armoured vehicles and the Army and the Air Force will get new tactical radios.

"Both acquisitions are long overdue. Together they demonstrate this Government's commitment to rebuild a Defence Force that was left in a parlous state after nine years of National Government neglect," Mark Burton said.

The chosen armoured vehicle is the LAVIII manufactured in Canada. 105 LAVIIIs will be delivered over a two year period from 2002. The total project cost is $611.764 million (GST inclusive) and is made up of the base cost of the vehicles, and all the other expenses such as spares, ammunition, simulators, training and infrastructure.

The LAVIII has a dual role as a fire support vehicle and infantry mobility vehicle. This means only 105 vehicles are needed, when the alternative options would have involved up to 150 vehicles. 105 LAVIIIs will allow both battalions of the New Zealand Army to be motorised.

1853 HV, VHF and Hand Held radios will be procured for the Army and for the Air Force, through the US Foreign Military Sales programme. They will replace equipment that dates back to the Vietnam War and which is obsolete and unreliable.

The total cost of the new communications equipment is $124.675 million (GST inclusive). It will be supplied over a two year period.

"The Government has decided not to proceed with Project Sirius," Mark Burton said.

"This proposed technology upgrade for the Orions had a price tag which, largely because of exchange rate movement, had risen to over $550 million. The contract had to be accepted by the end of this week.

"We are determined to ensure that each major acquisition decision will most appropriately contribute to the long term requirements of the NZDF.

"Project Sirius would have locked New Zealand into a specific capability before a clear assessment of how to best meet our needs was available.
"A group of senior Cabinet ministers is to examine how the wide range of non-military requirements for maritime patrol surveillance can most appropriately be met, and whether a military maritime patrol capability should be maintained.

"These Ministers will report back by February 2001. In the meantime, there will be no change to the operation of the Orions," Mark Burton said.

"This Government inherited a Defence Force with serious capability problems. We are now addressing two of the most urgent equipment needs.

"We have demonstrated our commitment to concentrate defence resources in areas where they are most needed.

"This Government will rebuild the New Zealand Defence Force so that it can meet the Government's defence policy objectives by offering a realistic range of capabilities. We cannot do everything. What we can do, we must and will do well," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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