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Govt supports National's policy

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

30 March 2001

Govt supports National's policy

National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today he was not surprised that the Government was considering to purchase anti-shipping missiles for the Airforce Orions and Navy Seasprite helicopters.

This week's Transtasman newsletter is claiming the Government is considering purchasing the missiles.

"The 1997 defence white paper 'The Shape of New Zealand's Defence', and the 'Whineray Report' which I commissioned on the future needs of the airforce as Defence Minister, recommended the purchase of the Harpoon for the air force's Orions and an anti-ship missile for the navy's Seasprite helicopters.

Both the Harpoon and the Penguin missiles are 'stand-off' anti-ship missiles. The Orion will be able to fire the missile about 80-100km from a target, while the Penguin can be fired from naval helicopters about 20-30kms from a ship target.

"What is inexplicable is the Government's intention to purchase the missiles and convert the Orions to a strike aircraft, yet refuse to equip them with an anti-submarine detection capability.

"The logic of Helen Clark's argument leaves the Orions without a key 'eyes and ears' gap, yet equips the Orions to fight a warlike event.

"Helen Clark should explain why we won't need a submarine detection capability at the same time as we need to use the missiles. Or does she intend to only sink fishing boats with the missiles?

"If she thinks equipping the Orions with the Harpoon is sufficient to replace the maritime strike capability of the Skyhawks, then she will be making another serious mistake," Mr Bradford said.

"This is another example of Helen Clark's drip-feed defence policy. She isn't prepared to tell us about the whole policy, but is leaking parts of it to soften the blow to the air force and the navy when it comes in May," Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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