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Government delivers on Defence Plan


Government delivers on Defence Plan

Minister of Defence Mark Burton has today announced Cabinet approval for a number of projects outlined the Defence Long Term Development Plan (LTDP). These projects will have positive implications across all three services of the New Zealand Defence Force, and signal another major move toward the realisation of the Government's goal of a modernised, well-equipped and sustainable Defence Force.

"Defence will to go to tender in early 2003 for both the Mission Systems upgrade and the Communications and Navigation Systems upgrade on our P-3 Orion fleet. The upgrades will mean that the P-3s will have enhanced capabilities for gathering and processing information, as well as meeting civil communications requirements and complying with new air traffic regulations due to come into force in 2005. In addition, there is a need to digitise the P-3s navigation systems to meet the requirements of longer-term global air traffic management regulations.

"There are a range of possible upgrade options available. They have been developed through an extensive consultation process involving civilian agencies, government departments, single NZDF services, the findings of the Maritime Patrol Review, and Cabinet direction.

"The tender process for the P-3 project will begin in early 2003, and fully costed options should be returned to Cabinet by late in the year. The upgrades are expected to be within the estimates outlined in the LTDP."

Mark Burton also announced the results of the Ohakea/ Whenuapai Basing Study, a project conducted in two phases by the RNZAF and the Ministry of Economic Development (MED).

"The Government concurs with the RNZAF's conclusion that their needs will be best served by maintaining one operational base and one support base (located at Woodbourne). Consolidation at Ohakea will facilitate a higher degree of coordination between Joint Force Headquarters, key air transport/support capabilities and land-based forces. This will enhance the efficiency and management of training and operations throughout New Zealand or overseas.

"The consolidation at Ohakea will also eliminate the duplication of facilities and significantly reduce administration, command and management overheads, thus creating substantial efficiency gains for the NZDF.

In response to questions about plans for the land at Whenuapai, Mark Burton said, "Now that the Government has made this key decision, which identifies Whenuapai as surplus to Defence operational requirements, officials will work up a detailed proposal, including a full costing analysis and options for the disposal of Whenuapai.

"There will need to be considerable consultation with a number of agencies and authorities as the future of Whenuapai is considered."

In other announcements, the Minister of Defence outlined the next step in the acquisition of New Zealand's new maritime fleet (Project Protector), progress on the NZDF Helicopter Capability Project, and the acquisition of new army support weapons.

"Work has begun on Project Protector's Request for Proposal (RFP), which will be sent to our six short listed companies. The RFP will include functional specifications for the proposed vessels and will be issued early in 2003.

"The Ministry of Defence has also begun work on a project to replace the Iroquois utility helicopter and the Sioux training helicopter. The operational, policy and training requirements for the Iroquois are currently being defined, and I expect to bring a paper to Cabinet outlining Defence's recommendations later next year. Options for the Sioux, which include purchase or short-term lease, should be before the cabinet early next year.

"Cabinet has also approved the purchase of two support weapon capabilities for the New Zealand Army. The first is the Automatic Grenade Launcher, which will to meet the Direct Fire Support Weapon area capability. The second is the Javelin terminally guided anti-armour weapon system, to meet the Medium Range Anti-Armour weapon capability."

Mark Burton is pleased at the progress of the acquisition projects outlined in the LTDP.

"When the LTDP was released in June 2002, the goal was to have a planning tool for the next decade that would enable the Government to make decisions on defence acquisitions in the context of defence policy, priority of projects, and affordability.

"In short, the LTDP marked the end of the decade of neglect and ad-hoc spending visited on our Defence Force by the previous National-led governments. It contains a comprehensive list of projects and preliminary costings, timings, and priorities-all of which are under constant review.

"The LTDP is designed to ensure that defence spending over the next 10 years is managed as agreed to by Cabinet in May 2002."

Questions and answers about the P-3s, Iroquois and Sioux helicopters, and the new Army support weapons

What do the P-3 Orions do?

The capability provided by the Orions is central to meeting a broad range of tasks across the Government's defence policy objectives. The Orions are used to work with civilian agencies to protect our interests in the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone, Southern Ocean and Ross Sea. They also assist in meeting our South Pacific obligations for search and rescue and surveillance assistance.

Why upgrade them?

The Orions are being upgraded to enable them to better provide long-range aerial patrol capability. This capability is designed to meet civilian requirements, provide a contingent military capacity against surface targets, and contribute to the Government's foreign and security policy objectives. Meeting the civilian agency requirements around New Zealand forms the core of the upgrade, with additional capability added where it is necessary for broader defence requirements.

The aerial patrol capability provided by the Orions is critical to regional security and is a valuable contribution to multinational operations overseas. The present mission systems are a combination of the original aircraft systems (purchased in 1966) and a partial upgrade completed in the early 1980s. These systems have limited ability to meet contemporary aerial patrol requirements and are becoming increasingly difficult to support.

What is the Mission System Upgrade?

The Orion Mission System Upgrade will enhance the aircraft's ability to gather and process information. The upgrade proposes to fit a new radar, electro-optical sensor (video/infrared camera), electronic surveillance system, and mission management system. This suite of modern systems will enable the detection, location and identification of targets and their activity at distance. It will also allow the gathering and recording of comprehensive information that will make a valuable contribution to the collective maritime surveillance environment. The information collected will be detailed enough, and of a high enough quality, to be used as evidence if required.

What is the Communications and Navigation Systems Upgrade and how will this contribute to the Orions being able to operate in global airspace?

The Communications and Navigation Systems Upgrade will enable the aircraft to comply with upcoming changes to air traffic management regulations and to have the capability to operate worldwide. The P-3's vastly improved communications capability will enable information-including text and imagery-to be transferred ashore or to other patrol assets in real time. This will provide accurate position information so that targets and their activity can be pinpointed.

Is anti-submarine warfare equipment included in the upgrade?

The upgrade does not include any specific anti-submarine equipment. The purpose of this upgrade is to enhance the Orion's ability to conduct a wide range of surface surveillance tasks, and to meet international air traffic control requirements.

What capability does the Orion have for subsurface surveillance?

The Orion has a PC-based acoustic system that provides a modest capability for listening to sounds below the surface. This capability has utility for a number of tasks, including detecting and tracking surface vessels, ascertaining whether a yacht's motor is running, or determining whether a trawl net is scouring the sea floor in a restricted area.

What upgrade work will be done in New Zealand?

The amount of upgrade work completed in New Zealand will be determined by the prime contractor after considering a number of factors including cost, risk and programme schedule. Based on discussions with industry, it is likely that the first aircraft would be modified overseas and that the remaining five aircraft would be completed in New Zealand.

Is this upgrade the same as the cancelled Project Sirius?

No. Project Sirius was initiated in the mid 1990s and focused on providing a capability to meet traditional military maritime patrol requirements. The current upgrade has taken a fresh approach and aims to provide a whole-of-government capability to meet both civilian and military surface surveillance requirements. The upgrade is designed to ensure New Zealand has effective surveillance capabilities to assist in countering a broad range of trans-national security risks such as resource exploitation, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and terrorism.

How has today's security environment changed military maritime patrol operations?

Military maritime patrol operations are now focused on co-ordinated, joint operations in coastal areas. These operations require broader, more flexible surveillance capabilities.

The introduction of new technology has provided aerial patrol aircraft with long-range, stand-off surveillance capabilities, able to provide real-time surveillance and reconnaissance imagery to both ships and troops on the ground. This systems upgrade will make the Orions a truly joint-force asset.

Will this upgrade enable interoperability with our allies and defence partners?

Yes. The Orions will have the ability to conduct a wide range of contemporary surveillance tasks. They will also have communications systems capable of sharing information with other forces. These capabilities will ensure that the aircraft are able to work closely with our defence partners within the region (including Australia), as well as make a valuable contribution to multinational operations.

When will the upgraded Orions be in operation?

It is expected that the first aircraft will be modified and back in service in 2006 with the remaining five aircraft complete by 2008. Upgrading the Orion is an unavoidably lengthy process, due mainly to the complexity of the project. The tender and evaluation process, combined with contract negotiation, is expected to take 12-18 months. It will then take another two years to design, develop and test the integrated system. In the last phase, it is then installed, tested and certified in an aircraft. Once the design has been proven, the process of modifying the remaining five aircraft is relatively expedient, and is expected to take a further two years.

What will be the implications of having aircraft out of service?

Upgrading the aircraft should have minimal impact on routine aerial patrol operations, as was evidenced during the recent Project Kestrel re-winging programme. Sufficient aircraft will be available to cover aerial patrol requirements around New Zealand and in the South Pacific. Under most circumstances, at least one aircraft would be available for deployment overseas.

What will the upgrades cost?

The Mission System Upgrade is expected to cost $150 to $220 million. The Communications and Navigation Systems Upgrade were originally due to be undertaken in two phases. Recent analysis indicates that it may be more cost-effective to complete the upgrade in a single block. The cost of this option will be sought during the tender process.

Are there any other projects for the Orions?

There are three other projects on the Long-Term Development Plan that are closely linked to the Orions. These are the anti-ship missile, C-130/P-3 self-protection and NZDF torpedo replacement projects. They are the next stage in a programme to progressively upgrade the Orions to meet the Government's defence policy objectives, and will be considered later in the decade.

Iroquois Utility Helicopter Replacement (Project Warrior)

Why replace the Iroquois helicopter?

Utility helicopters provide essential support to deployed New Zealand forces, particularly in peace support operations and the South Pacific. Helicopters are important for supporting police and counter terrorist operations in New Zealand. In addition they provide a range of other support functions within New Zealand and the South Pacific such as search and rescue and disaster relief.

Why replace the Iroquois now?

Beginning the project now will ensure that a replacement for the Iroquois will be ready to support other modernised Army capabilities by 2007, and before the Iroquois becomes a safety risk and too costly to support.

Will the Iroquois be replaced or upgraded?

The Iroquois will be replaced. Even if it were feasible to upgrade the airframe, systems and avionics, it would eventually become too costly to support once the United States military withdraws its support of the Iroquois by the end of 2004. In any case the Iroquois no longer provides the capability required by a modern and mobile land force.

What is the next step?

Defence is now defining the policy, operational and training requirements for the replacement helicopter. This work will lead on to the process of developing costed options that will be the basis for an approval-in principal to proceed with acquisition by government in August 2003.

What type and number of helicopters will be acquired?

The RNZAF currently operates 14 Iroquois. Options involving the type and number of helicopters will be determined by the pre-acquisition study.


Training Helicopter Replacement (Project Kea)

Why replace the Sioux training helicopter?

The Sioux helicopter is of 1950s vintage and is now inadequate to meet training needs. It does not provide an adequate step in pilot training progression from the Airtrainer aircraft to operational utility (Iroquois) and maritime (Seasprite) helicopters.


When should the Sioux be replaced?

There is an immediate need to address the training capability gap. It would not, however, be appropriate to commit to a long-term solution until decisions are made about the utility helicopter replacement as this will impact on the Sioux replacement. An interim helicopter training capability is required now for about the next five years to avoid risk to RNZN and RNZAF helicopter operations.

What will an "interim" capability consist of?

Options, including short-term lease or purchase, are currently being developed and government will be briefed on these early in 2003. The interim helicopter will clearly be more capable than the vintage Sioux, but may not meet the full or specific capabilities that will eventually be defined for the training helicopter requirement.


General

What will the project cost?

The estimated funding to replace the Iroquois utility and Sioux training helicopters is something over $410 million.


Army Support Weapons Acquisitions Project

What is the Army Support Weapons Project?

The Army support weapons project is to address a capability deficiency within the land forces for direct fire support weapons to provide area fire and to defend against threats at longer ranges up to 2,200 metres. For this task the Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) has been selected as the equipment type that best fulfils these requirements. There is also a requirement for our land forces to be able to defend themselves against armoured vehicles up to a similar range with a Medium Range Anti-armour Weapon (MRAAW), and for it to additionally be able to engage hardened positions, such as bunkers, at a standoff range.

What is an Automatic Grenade Launcher?

An AGL consists of a single barrelled gun, normally mounted on a tripod or vehicle mount, which fires 40mm grenades to a maximum range of 2,200 metres. In addition to the AGL itself, the system requires an integrated targeting (laser range finder) and fire control unit (ballistic computer) (TFCU) to achieve the necessary accuracy for the weapon.


What is a Medium Range Anti-armour weapon?

This is a shoulder launched man portable anti-tank missile system with a range of around 2,200 metres. It comprises two parts: a Command Launch Unit (CLU), which uses an infrared observation system to locate and designate the target; and the missile itself.

How many weapons are being procured?

It is intended to procure 24 AGLs and 24 MRAAW systems for the Army.

When would the weapons be introduced into service?

It is intended to introduce the AGL and MRAAW into service over the 2004 period to coincide with the introduction of the Light Armoured Vehicle.

What will the project cost?

The estimated total cost of the project for the AGL and MRAAW is $37 million. This includes training and simulation equipment for the MRAAW that will significantly reduce annual operating costs.

What about the Alerting and Cueing system for Very Low Level Air Defence Capability?

The Army's Mistral air defence system requires radar detection and associated alerting and cueing system to bring it up to the desired operational standard. Defence is awaiting accurate costing information and an acquisition proposal will be submitted to government as soon as this is received.

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