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“An option to cover this gap would be to have shorter-range, less
advanced aircraft to cover the lower-level tasks. This would let us do more
of these tasks for ourselves and help our South Pacific neighbours by
basing these aircraft in the islands from time to time.”
Dr Mapp denied the latest review was a cost cutting exercise but made it
clear there is little prospect of increased spending on the defence budget
which is now running at $2.1 a year.
“One immediate problem we face is that defence spending will be tight
in the next five years. This is due to two factors. The first is the introduction
of $2 billion of new or dramatically improved capabilities: new helicopters,
new ships and upgraded Orion and Hercules aircraft.
“All these generate additional depreciation and operation costs. This
money has to be found.
“The second is the impact of the recession on Government spending,
which means only small increases in defence spending over the next few
years. The Gover nment has been determined to get more value for money.
In defence, this means shifting expenditure from the back office to the
front line,” said Dr Mapp.
It is an old political mantra in New Zealand but it is hard to see where
the savings are coming from given that Defence Chief Jerry Mateparae
reports he has found savings of $84 million over the last two financial years
with cuts in travel costs, IT spending, superannuation, service contracts,
recruiting. human resources policy and property rationalizations.
A number of major acquisition projects are looming in the next few years
and the White Paper, which is supposed to be a strategic plan for defence
over the next 25 years, will have to address some costly issues.
These include a mid-life upgrade of self-defence systems on the frigates,
the replacement of the Navy’s old single-skinned tanker, the ultimate
replacement of the Hercules transport aircraft and acquisition of new
trucks for the army. A lot of the bases also need substantial investment to
upgrade aging infrastructure.
And to complete the picture from across the Tasman, the Royal New
Zeal and Air Force’s Red Checkers aerobatic display team has been
grounded after two recent accidents. The team, which flies five single-prop
CT-4E Airtrainers, suffered its first fatal accident in January when Squadron
Leader Nick Cree died when his plane crashed during a training flight near
the Ohakea Air Force Base in January.
The Air Force cancelled further displays for the rest of the season after
a second training flight incident on March 1 when a cockpit canopy was
clipped by the wheel of another aircraft. The accidents are still under
investigation. The aerobatic team is a major showpiece for the Air Force and
they regularly put on displays at air shows and major public events. APDR
A number of major acquisition projects are
looming in the next few years and the White
Paper, which is supposed to be a strategic plan
for defence over the next 25 years, will have to
address some costly issues
Australian variant of the NH90
APDR April2010.indd 24
9/04/10 10:46 AM
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