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Hercules upgrade prompts security concerns

Hercules upgrade prompts security concerns

The upgrade of New Zealand’s five Air Force Hercules has prompted security concerns because no contingency plan has been put in place, says National Defence Spokesperson Richard Worth.

“It is most concerning that the Government has known that the upgrade would create a capability gap in the Hercules fleet, limiting its response to emergency relief or a terrorism event, but won’t do anything about it.

Cabinet papers released under the Official Information Act say the Government is looking at two options of upgrading the fleet - a programme involving one aircraft at a time over four years or two aircraft at a time over 2.5 years.

“The papers show that areas of ‘policy risk’ due to the upgrade include the Government having to chose between undertaking overseas tasks and ensuring sufficient support remains in New Zealand.

“The Government is taking a significant risk because during the extended period of the upgrade aircraft will not be able to carry out critical defence tasks such as supporting counter terrorist operations, peace support operations, disaster relief etc. That risk should not be taken and is avoidable.

“The Government should face up to the costs of leasing aircraft so that New Zealand can maintain an effective aircraft cover. Leasing aircraft to cover is an option outlined in the Cabinet papers.

“I hope the Cabinet will reconsider its decision so that the upgrade can proceed without the associated policy risks. It is reckless to do otherwise,” Mr Worth said.

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