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RNZAF Has Crucial Future Role

Today's laying up of three RNZAF squadron standards is a time to look to the future as well as reflecting on the past, Defence Minister Mark Burton said.

Mark Burton will represent the Government at today's ceremony at Ohakea Air Base, which marks the disbandment of Squadrons 2,14 and 75.

"This is a day with a sense of loss, but it is also a day that marks a new beginning," Mark Burton said.

"The professionalism and skill of the pilots, ground staff and other supporting personnel for the three squadrons has been of the highest order. But the Government has had to set priorities for defence spending.

"Air combat aircraft and the weaponry needed to equip them are very expensive. The cost of maintaining them, let along replacing them, needed to be balanced against the urgent need to upgrade other Air Force capabilities, as well as the critical capabilities of the Army and Navy.

"It is important to remember that modernising and re-equipping the RNZAF is a crucial commitment made by this government.

 The C-130 Hercules aircraft will be upgraded or replaced.
 The Iroquois helicopters will be upgraded or replaced.
 The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft will get an equipment upgrade. The feasibility of equipping the Orions with missiles is being investigated.
 The Boeing 727 transport aircraft will be replaced.

"We are building a professional and well-equipped Defence Force – and that includes a modern, relevant Air Force," Mark Burton said.

"The Air Force, Navy and Army are all being given well-defined, complementary roles, an equipment modernisation programme to match those roles and clarity of funding, to ensure that the Defence Force can effectively perform the tasks that New Zealand asks of it."


Ends

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