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Air Force Wins Major Funds for Infrastructure

Air Force Wins Major Funds for Infrastructure

Cabinet has agreed to spend $129 million to develop key infrastructure at Ohakea Air Force Base and other infrastructure upgrades, Defence Minister Phil Goff announced today.

“This funding represents the start of a major upgrade of Air Force facilities at Ohakea, Phil Goff said.

“New hangars are necessary for the state of the art NH 90 medium utility helicopter fleet and the new A109 training and light utility helicopters.

“The two new fleets are due to arrive from 2010 and represent an investment of around $900 million.

“The $129 million will also fund new maintenance, support and office facilities and improved base security.

“In addition it will allow the construction of a new and much needed air movements terminal for passengers and cargo, including offices for New Zealand Customs, Biosecurity and Immigration.

“These are necessary for the role Ohakea plays as an emergency airport should North Island airports be closed to international air traffic.

“These projects provide potential opportunities for local businesses and employment, and will give the region a real boost.

“Tenders will be issued next year so that construction can start in 2008”, Mr Goff said.

“Cabinet also considered options for rationalisation of the RNZAF at Ohakea.

“Defence as been asked to report back to Cabinet in the end half of 2008 with an updated business case for consolidation and time frames for the Air Force leaving Whenuapai between 2014 and 2018.

“This exercise also provides the opportunity for interested parties including local Councils to express their views on the future use of Whenuapai.

Waitakere City Council has repeatedly asked for the opportunity to make a case for joint civilian-military use of the base while others have strenuously opposed that.

“Those parties interested will have the opportunity to represent their views to the Government.

“The Defence Force will advertise next year how they intend to conduct this process”, Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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