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New Defence Purchases Put Government Back On Track

New Purchases Put Government On Track In Re-Building The Defence Force

Cabinet has given final approval to the proposal to lease 28 F-16 fighter aircraft from the United States, Defence Minister Max Bradford announced today.

Mr Bradford also announced Cabinet had approved in principle the replacement of the Army’s Land Rovers and approved the purchase of a fifth naval helicopter.

“After many years of neglect by successive administrations, I am very pleased that the Government has made impressive progress in re-equipping our men and women in New Zealand’s Defence Force to meet the challenges of the next century," Mr Bradford said.

“We are replacing equipment which is up to 30 years old, in the most cost effective and efficient manner whilst also supporting New Zealand industry. The naval helicopter programme is expected to inject $100 million into New Zealand's defence industry over the next 10 years.

"In the 1997 Defence Assessment we gave a firm commitment to a $663 million funding programme over five years to rebuild New Zealand’s defence capabilities, particularly the ones most likely to be needed in the short term for regional security and peacekeeping operations.

“The longer term goal is to strengthen New Zealand against an uncertain future, and to signal to our friends and allies that we are serious about maintaining our contribution to the security of the Asia-Pacific region and to international peacekeeping,” Mr Bradford said.

The following is an outline of progress to date.


Armoured Vehicles: The Government has approved tenders for 102 new Infantry Mobility Vehicles and Fire Support Vehicles to replace the Army’s obsolete Armoured Personnel Carriers.

Light Operational Vehicles (LOVs): The Government has approved the project in principle. Tenders are expected to be issued in the third quarter of this year.

Mobile Tactical Communications (radios): To be purchased under the US Foreign Military Sales system. A Letter of Request is currently being processed by the US Government.

Very Low Level Air Defence (VLLAD): The ground-to-air missiles, supplied by French company Matra, began service in April 1998. Tenders will be issued this year for the targeting and cueing system.

Medium Range Anti-Armour Weapon (MRAAW):The Government has approved the project in principle.

Support Weapons (Direct): A contract has been placed with FN Herstal for 24 heavy machine guns.

Support Weapons (automatic grenade launchers): The Government has approved the project in principle. Tenders for the equipment will be issued late this year.


Naval helicopters: Four SH-2G Kaman Seasprite naval helicopters are under construction and the Government has approved the purchase of a fifth helicopter. Three SH-2F helicopters are currently in service as an interim capability.

HMNZS Charles Upham: The Government has approved in principle the conversion of the vessel into a fully operational sealift ship. The conversion work is expected to begin early in 2001.

ANZAC frigate Bridge Simulator: The Government approved the project in principle this year to acquire a simulator to provide personnel training at the lowest cost. A contract is expected to be awarded shortly.

The Second ANZAC frigate: HMNZS Te Mana is due to be delivered late this year.

The Third frigate: Not yet approved. Government remains committed to at least a three combat vessel fleet and a review of New Zealand’s naval combat requirements is under way.


F-16s: The Government has approved the lease of 28 American-built aircraft, along with funding for a “start-up” package which includes the refurbishment of engines and systems, spares, support equipment and the training of pilots and maintenance crews.

Project Sirius: The upgrade of the tactical systems of the P3K maritime patrol aircraft. Tenders are currently being evaluated.

Project Kestrel: The re-winging of six P3K maritime patrol aircraft. Work on two aircraft has been completed and work on a third is under way. The savings on this project compared with replacement are in the many hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to New Zealand’s lateral thinking.

Project Delphi: The installation of self-protection equipment (cockpit armour and missile warning systems) in the C-130 Hercules aircraft fleet. This project should be complete before the end of the year.

C130-J Hercules: The Government is exploring options to replace its fleet of five C130H transport aircraft, possibly by leasing C130J aircraft or refurbishing the existing fleet. The current option to purchase C130Js as part of the Australian buy from Lockheed expires in 2002.

Fact Sheets for F16s, 5th Naval helicopter and Landrover replacements attached.

F-16 Lease Deal Approved

The Ministry of Defence has been given approval to sign a lease agreement with the United States for 28 F-16A/B strike aircraft, the Minister of Defence Max Bradford announced today.

The Ministry has negotiated two five-year leases with the US Government costing NZ$124.8 million (excluding GST) for the entire fleet of 28 aircraft, with an option to buy them at the end of the 10-year lease period, or at any time in between. These costs are the same as those announced last December when Cabinet approved the ‘lease in principle.’

The deal includes a “start-up” package totalling an estimated $238 million (excluding GST). The package includes the cost of refurbishing the engines and systems of the aircraft, which are currently in storage in the United States, pilot and maintenance staff training, spares and essential support equipment such as Computerised Mission Planning Systems and a Simulator to reduce training costs.

Mr Bradford said the deal was a particularly good one for New Zealand.

“It gives us near-new aircraft in 2001 at a price we simply couldn’t afford to pass up. It also avoids the $54 million upgrade our 1950s-designed Skyhawks would have needed to keep them flying until 2006/7.”

"While the start up package will cost $38 million more than originally estimated because of refinements in cost estimates by the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) System, the deal will still save the Government around NZ$350 million during the life of the aircraft compared with purchasing new aircraft next century. The lease is seen by Treasury as being “the least cost option” to acquire this increase in air combat capability.”

Mr Bradford said there was potential for New Zealand companies to be involved in the manufacture of ground support equipment for the F-16s and ongoing maintenance for their systems and components

Re-equipping the Air Force with modern strike aircraft would boost New Zealand's air combat capability dramatically and significantly enhance our defence relationships with Australia and the United States, he said.

“Combined sea-air power is the key to maintaining the stability of the region in which we live, trade, and invest.

“Other nations in our region are contributing to that stability with modern ships and aircraft, and our two squadrons of F-16s will help New Zealand play its part. The purchase is seen by our friends and allies as a strong signal of our commitment to sharing the burden of regional defence, and rightly so,” Mr Bradford said.

The lease agreement for the F-16s is expected to be signed in Washington later this month during a visit by the Attorney General Rt Hon Sir Douglas Graham.

Fact sheet and Q&A sheet attached

* There are some 4000 F-16s currently in service with 19 of the world’s air forces, including six air forces in the Asia-Pacific region. In the Gulf War US Air Force F-16s flew more sorties than any other aircraft, successfully attacking Iraqi airfields, military production facilities, Scud missile sites and a variety of other targets. It performed with equal distinction in the Kosovo campaign against the Serbs.

* The F-16's manoeuvrability and range - the distance it can fly into combat, stay, fight and return - is superior to most other comparable fighters. In a surface attack role it can fly more than 500 nautical miles (926 kilometres), deliver its weapons with great accuracy, defend itself against enemy missiles and aircraft, and return to base. The F-16 mounts a wider variety of weapons than any other fighter aircraft of its age, which is why it is regularly used by the United States Air Force to test its new weapon systems.

* The F-16s that will fly for the RNZAF will have three combat roles - close air support, air interdiction and maritime strike. The aircraft will be able to support our troops on the ground, or those of our allies, by destroying tanks and other armoured vehicles, attack bridges and supply dumps, and disable enemy warships in defence of our or our allies' naval forces.

* The F-16s have the power and range to enforce UN sanctions and “no-fly” zones, should New Zealand again commit forces to international peacekeeping operations. They would be vital to the defence of our coastline and sea-lanes in the unlikely event that our territory was ever threatened. They might also be used to intercept potential poachers of the fish and mineral resources of our EEZ, the fourth largest in the world.

* The choice of the F-16 did not come out of the blue. The replacement options for the Skyhawk were assessed in an air combat review completed last year. Those options included a light attack aircraft like the British Hawk 200, a combination of an attack helicopter like the AH1W Super Cobra and a P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft armed with an anti-ship missile. They included an upgraded Skyhawk, a multi-role fighter like the F-16A/B and a more advanced multi-role fighter like the F-16C/D.

* The review found the F-16C/D to be the most effective aircraft for New Zealand’s requirements but too expensive to buy new and unlikely to be available second hand before the Skyhawks end their operational life around 2007. The review recommended that we look at suitable second-hand aircraft such as the F-16A/B, and because the Americans were offering us a particularly attractive deal we did just that.

* The F-16A/Bs are essentially brand new (the oldest of the airframes has seen only 11 hours of flying). They have, however, been preserved and stored in a dry desert environment for six years, which means that their engines and airframes will have to be serviced before they can fly with the RNZAF. That process is likely to take up to 30 months but is included in the NZ$238 million (excluding GST) support package.

* In the F-16 we have an affordable, reliable, multi-role jet fighter which can contribute if need be to military operations mounted by our regional defence partners, and to UN-sponsored coalitions designed to keep (or enforce) the peace. They will send our allies - particularly our FPDA partners Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the UK - a clear message that New Zealand is both serious about its own defence and committed to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.


Why is New Zealand leasing F16 Aircraft?

The RNZAF currently has 19 ageing A4 Skyhawks which will be replaced with 28 modern F16 A/B Aircraft. The lease arrangement (with the US Government) with an option to buy, will reduce the risks associated with the1950s designed Skyhawk aircraft and avoid a $54 million Skyhawk upgrade that would be necessary in 2006/7.

What are the Benefits of the Agreement?

Re-equipping the Air Force with modern strike aircraft will boost its air combat capability and its ability to operate effectively with other forces in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also strengthen New Zealand’s defence relations with Australia and the United States.

What are F16?

F16s are advanced multi-role, single engine jet aircraft which provide affordable and credible capability for contributions to multi national operations. There are 4000 F16s operated by 19 countries around the world.

Because the F16 is so widely operated and has been a frontline aircraft for some years, the operational, logistic and support infrastructures are well established.

What are our F16s?

The 28 F16s offered to New Zealand come in single seat and two seat models (13 are F16As - single seaters and 15 F16Bs - two seaters). They are essentially new aircraft in terms of flying hours.

The particular aircraft leased by New Zealand are the product of long established improvements over the original baseline A/Bs. Our F16s are built to Block 15 standard with the Operational Capability Upgrade (OCU) incorporated.

How does the F16 armament compare with the Skyhawk?

Our F16s are able to carry a broader range of armament than the Skyhawk, including all of the specialist weapons that we currently have.

What do they cost?

New Zealand has accepted a lease deal costing an average of NZ $12.5 million per year for all 28 aircraft, plus a one-off NZ$238 million reactivation package which includes spares, support and training. The agreement includes an option to buy the aircraft at the end of the tenth year for around NZ$287 million.

What needs to be done to our F16s before they go into service?

Our F16s have been in open storage in a dry desert environment for six years and must be put through a reactivation programme before they can enter service. This entails inspecting and testing 22 of the aircraft, overhauling the engines, and the inclusion of a number of minor safety related improvements. The remaining 6 aircraft will be used as source of spares.

Is there any intention to upgrade them?

There is no immediate plan to upgrade our A/B models to later C/D standard. Other Air Forces have developed an avionics upgrade package designed to maintain the longer term competitiveness of the aircraft.

What is the training requirement?

Technical training for around 35 technicians will be undertaken in the US. These technicians will in turn, train and supervise the remainder of the technical support personnel in New Zealand. A small number of flying instructors will receive conversion training on the aircraft in the US before returning to NZ as Qualified Flying Instructors on the F16.

What will happen to our Skyhawks?

The final disposal of the Skyhawks is being investigated and it is too early to say when they will be taken out of service. It is expected that they will be sold to another country as a going concern. So the fleet will probably be operated up to the time it is sold.

Fifth Helicopter For Navy

The Government is to purchase a fifth Seasprite SH-2G helicopter for the Navy from Kaman Aerospace Corporation of the United States, the Minister of Defence Max Bradford, announced today.

The new helicopter, which will operate from the Navy’s two new ANZAC frigates and the Leander Class frigate HMNZS Canterbury, will cost $43 million (excluding GST), in line with the price of the other SH-2G aircraft. A further $20 million (excl. GST) will be paid for spares, support equipment and air-to-surface missiles.

“The 1997 Defence White Paper stipulated a minimum of three frigates equipped with five modern helicopters if New Zealand was to have an effective naval combat force,“ Mr Bradford said.

"By buying the fifth helicopter now when the Kaman production line is still open we avoid a penalty of between $14 and $32 million should the purchase be deferred. Also, we get the same model as the four SH-2G helicopters already ordered, which is by no means guaranteed if the order is placed after the option expires in August this year.”

Mr Bradford said a fleet of just four naval helicopters did not allow for maintenance, training, or losses from accidents and hostile action.

“Any one of these could mean deploying one of our ships without a helicopter, limiting its peacetime role and making it vulnerable in combat to better-equipped opponents. A modern helicopter like the Seasprite increases the surveillance capability of a frigate at least six-fold.

"Like the other four, the fifth helicopter will be funded entirely from within the existing Defence budget. No extra taxpayer funding is involved,” he said.

New Zealand companies are expected to carry out work worth about $100 million in building components for and maintaining Kaman helicopters purchased by the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Bradford said the Seasprite project was already producing valuable spin-offs for New Zealand industry, with Safe Air of Blenheim designing parts and supplying components for the new helicopters.

"Safe Air staff are gaining vital knowledge and skill from the US Kaman factory. Safe Air is also well-placed to provide through-life support for both the New Zealand Seasprites and the Seasprite fleet that the Australian Navy will operate from its eight new ANZAC frigates,” Mr Bradford said.

The Seasprite SH-2G helicopter has both a surveillance and combat role, and can be armed with Maverick missiles, torpedoes and depth charges. It can fly stores and personnel from ship to shore, perform search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, and play a key role in naval boarding operations.

The first four helicopters are expected to be in service with the RNZN by the end of 2000, and the fifth at a date to be negotiated with Kaman. An earlier version of the Seasprite SH-2G, the SH-2F, is bridging the gap between the withdrawal from service of the Navy’s obsolete Wasp helicopters and the introduction of the SH-2G.


In March 1997 the Government announced their decision to purchase four new helicopters for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Navy’s aging fleet of Wasp helicopters would be replaced with the American Kaman Seasprite helicopters. The Ministry of Defence negotiated with Kaman to supply four helicopters, the first of which was expected to enter service in the year 2000.

At the time of the decision to purchase four helicopters, provision was made in the contract for an option to buy a further two helicopters.

The 1997 White Paper, “The Shape of New Zealand’s Defence”, directed the reduction of the Naval Combat Force (NCF) to three frigates and stated that “An additional helicopter will be acquired to outfit a third ship”. Subsequently, Government elected not to purchase a third ANZAC Class ship and a study has commenced to identify options for the replacement of HMNZS CANTERBURY. It remains Government policy, however, that the NCF will comprise three frigates capable of blue water operations, and once TE MANA is delivered the NCF will have three Seasprite capable ships.

An effective maritime helicopter is an essential addition to the fighting capability of a modern frigate because it enhances its ability to defend itself and other shipping against both surface and undersea adversaries. A naval force without modern helicopters is vulnerable and becomes a liability to our regional allies. A helicopter, such as the Seasprite, increases the surveillance capability of a frigate at least six-fold.

The current purchase of four helicopters in unable to fully satisfy the demands of the Naval Combat Force during training and is likely to fall well short of the operational requirement of the NCF during sustained deployed operations.

The helicopters are part of the modernisation programme of New Zealand’s Defence Forces. By replacing its obsolete equipment, New Zealand will be equipped and ready to play its part in peacekeeping, resource protection and the security of the Asia-Pacific region.


In the Contract to supply Seasprite SH-2G Helicopters to New Zealand, the United States company Kaman Aerospace Corporation has committed to a New Zealand Industry Involvement (NZII) Programme.

The NZII programme involves work to be done in Australia and New Zealand, and the ability to support the helicopter systems. Australia is purchasing similar helicopters from Kaman. The Australian Industry Involvement Programme is aligned with the New Zealand programme.

Safe Air Ltd of Blenheim is the key Australasian partner for Kaman. Safe Air is working on both the Australian and New Zealand programmes.

They are providing the following services:

 Component manufacture or refurbishment, for flight controls, weapons pylons, doors, horizontal stabiliser and support equipment.

 Design assistance services both at Kaman and in New Zealand.

 Electrical wiring harness manufacture.

 Flight line services.

Safe Air is seeking local manufacturers for a range of additional aeronautical components for use on the two programmes on behalf of Kaman.

Safe Air is well placed to provide both the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) support for the helicopters when in service.

Kaman will give Safe Air an extensive range of technical data necessary for the maintenance and overhaul of the helicopters.

Safe Air currently has 18 engineers in the USA working with Kaman, with an additional four still to go.

The amount of design work done by New Zealanders already exceeds the amount originally anticipated in the contract. Safe Air now has a team well trained in both the design and manufacture of the helicopters. It is the first time that a New Zealand company has been so closely involved with the manufacturer on the design of such major equipment. The exposure of the New Zealand engineers to so much of the design detail will greatly enhance the ability of Safe Air to maintain the helicopters once in service.

Estimates made at the time the contracts were awarded projected the New Zealand portion of the industry programme would entail about $100 million of work on both programmes during the manufacture of the helicopters, and in their maintenance over the first ten years of equipment life.

A significant portion of this will be undertaken by Safe Air including basing five engineers in the RAN support facility in Nowra, NSW.

Landrover Replacement Approved

The Ministry of Defence is to invite tenders for the supply of 423 Light Operational Vehicles (LOVs) to the Army, the Minister of DefenceMax Bradford, announced today.

The project was approved by Cabinet yesterday, and is part of the $500 million re-equipment programme for the Army announced by the Government last year.

The new vehicle fleet, which replaces the Army’s 567 Landrovers, will be made up of of 285 standard military vehicles (36 with armoured protection), 15 shelter(armoured) variants, 8 ambulances, and 115 non-military vehicles.

The LOVs will supplement the102 new Infantry Mobility Vehicles and Fire Support Vehicles the Ministry is purchasing to replace the Army’s obsolete Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and retired Scorpions.

Mr Bradford said the new LOVs would perform a number of vital functions in the field, including command and control, reconnaissance and surveillance, transport of weapons and crews, resupply, and the evacuation of battlefield casualties.

“The Army’s doctrine of manoeuvre warfare requires a well-equipped light infantry force which can move quickly and strike hard at an adversary’s weak points. Like the current generation of APCs, the Landrover fleet is increasingly unable to support our ground forces in this role.

“In 1994, for example, our vehicles could only be sent to Bosnia after an extensive refurbishment and repowering with a diesel engine. They had to be refurbished again for the Bougainville deployment in 1998. In sum, the fleet is old, expensive to maintain, and in many cases unsafe to operate.”

"Operational issues apart, the project has potential to offer New Zealand industry work in the areas of assembly, testing, training, and on-going maintenance,"Mr Bradford said.

The first of the Light Operational Vehicles are expected to enter service with the Army late this year, with the armoured vehicles beginning service late next year. The Army’s existing Landrover fleet will be sold on the open market.


The New Zealand Army currently has a 567- vehicle fleet of Landrover V8s (LRV8) which will be replaced with 423 Light Operational Vehicles (LOVs) of military and non-military specifications. The Light Operational Vehicle (LOV) is a generic term.

The splitting of military and non-military vehicles in the replacement LOV mix provides for a greater flexibility of use and will provide a range of options for the tasks the New Zealand Army undertake such as command and control, liaison, support to reconnaissance and surveillance, mobility for support weapons and crews. The LOV will be used for transportation for commanders, liaison teams, control teams, small groups, aspects of forward internal replenishment and unit administration tasks.

The Landrover V8s (LRV8) are five years overdue for replacement. The current Army Landrovers were purchased with a “Life-of-Type” of twelve years, which expired in 1994. The existing vehicle fleet is outside its design life and is expensive to maintain. The technology is dated and petrol is often not available within the area of operations. The replacement LOVs will use diesel.


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