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Another major step in re-equipping our forces

Another major step in re-equipping our forces

The purchase of 188 new Pinzgauer Light Operational Vehicles is signed, sealed, and soon to be delivered to the New Zealand Defence Force.

The vehicles are the first tranche of a total fleet of 321, and will replace the Army’s current fleet of aging Landrovers. The total cost of the project is estimated at $60 - $110 million, and delivery is scheduled to begin in October 2004.

At the signing of the contract today with suppliers Automotive Technik Ltd, Minister of Defence Mark Burton said the government had taken another significant step towards achieving the goal of a modernised, well equipped, and sustainable Defence Force across all three services.

“When this government took office in late 1999, we inherited a force suffering from nine years of neglect and an ad-hoc approach to funding and acquisitions. I’m proud to say that we have brought an end to that era with the Defence Long-Term Development Plan—a planning tool that will enable the government to make acquisition decisions in the context of defence policy, priority of projects, and affordability over the next decade.

“Purchasing these new vehicles reinforces once again the positive progress we are making in re-equipping all three services of the NZDF. These 188 vehicles are just the first tranche of LOVs, with a second, armoured component yet to come. Along with new field communications systems, Light Armoured Vehicles, weaponry, and technology upgrades, this government has already invested close to $1 billion in the Army alone.

“We have also completed the upgrade of the runway at Ohakea Air Base and replaced the Air Force’s aging 727s with 757-200 jet aircraft, and invited proposals for the replacement of Air Force utility and training helicopters. We have announced a C130 Hercules 15-year Structural Life Extension Project, C-130 and P-3 Communication And Navigation Systems Upgrade, and the P-3 Mission Systems Upgrade—all of which are currently in the tender evaluation phase. Together, these projects represent another $1 billion investment.

“Tenders are also currently being evaluated for Project Protector, the $500 million project which will see the Navy replace the aging frigate Canterbury with a new multi-role vessel, off-shore and in-shore patrol vessels.

“We have ended the shameful level of neglect visited on our Defence Force throughout the 1990s. It’s high time our world-class personnel got the equipment to match their world-class skills, and I am proud to be part of a government that does more than pay lip service to investing in their future,” said Mark Burton.

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