You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

$20b defence force revamp unveiled

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/06/2016 By Sarah Robson

After months of delays, the government has finally unveiled its $20 billion, 15-year plan for the modernisation of New Zealand's defence force.

The Defence White Paper, released on Wednesday, signals a long-term investment in the armed forces, which includes replacing a number of ageing aircraft and frigates, buying an ice-strengthened offshore patrol vessel, and developing new cyber security capabilities to better protect the military from the growing threat of cyber attacks.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the spending plan will ensure the army, air force and navy have the necessary equipment and capabilities to meet New Zealand's ever-changing security and defence challenges.

While the paper pinpoints the defence force assets that are destined for the scrap heap, including the air force's Boeing 757, Hercules and Orion aircraft, there are no details about what they will be replaced with, when they will be replaced or how much it will cost.

Although New Zealand doesn't face any direct military threats in the foreseeable future, the paper says New Zealand's relative geographic isolation no longer offers the protection it once did and there are a number of security challenges that need to be managed.

There is a significant focus in the paper on the defence force's role in protecting and patrolling the exclusive economic zone and the wider South Pacific, and supporting New Zealand's interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Mr Brownlee says illegal, unregulated fishing in the EEZ is something that continues to trouble the government.

"That is an attack on our economy," he told reporters.

"Similarly throughout the Pacific, when you have unregulated fishing with some of our Pacific neighbours, that is also an attack on their economy and comes at a cost to us and our partner nations."

The paper notes that Antarctica has become the focus of increasing international attention and while scientific research is the key focus for most countries with a presence on the ice, the motivation of others may be "less clear".

Mr Brownlee said New Zealand has a long-standing interest in Antarctica, with a big dependency in the Ross Sea, as well as its permanent presence at Scott Base.

"By having some ice-strengthened ships and then ultimately looking at our strategic airlift down into the Antarctic, we're playing our part alongside the other nations who are there, most notably the US who have a very big presence, operated out of New Zealand," he said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon