New Zealand’s Defence White Paper outlines $20B modernization plan

New Zealand’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee launched the Defence White Paper 2016 on June 8, announcing a 15-year modernisation plan worth nearly $20 billion.

While the paper announces that several Navy assets would be replaced or enhanced, it does not provide details on the options considered or the amount of funds dedicated for the acquisitions.

The government intends to replace the P-3K2 Orion aircraft with an asset that would better safeguard New Zealand’s maritime zone. Work is currently underway to upgrade the Orions’ underwater intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, while the entire fleet is scheduled for replacement in the mid-2020s.

Aditionally, the Anzac-class frigates are to be replaced by ships that support ‘global security operations’. Options for replacement will be considered before the ships reach the end of their service lives, the paper said.

The nation’s two offshore patrol vessels will be augmented by an additional, ice-strengthened vessel. The planned replacement for the HMNZS Endeavour fleet tanker will also be ice-strengthened.

New Zealand also intends to add a littoral operations support vessel which would enhance the Defence Force’s ability to support operations from the sea onto land, including diving, mine and other obstacle clearance, hydrography (mapping), and movement of personnel. The vessel would also provide an additional deployment option for international coalition operations.

“The $20 billion investment over the next 15 years signalled in the White Paper provides the Defence Force with a degree of funding certainty that enables it to plan with confidence out to 2030 and beyond.

“What I am signalling today is the Government’s continued commitment to the defence and security of New Zealand through responsible and timely investment in our armed forces,” Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said.