Among the projects that will be funded under the latest New Zealand military budget is a systems upgrade for the Navy's two Anzac-class frigates. (New Zealand Defence Force)
WELLINGTON — New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced the government will invest NZ $100.9 million (US $86 million) of operating funds in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in 2014/2015. Further details will be revealed when the budget is released May 15.
It is the first stage of an allocation of NZ $535.5 million in operating funds for the NZDF over the next four years, Coleman said.
“This … means the government is addressing the long-term funding gap which we inherited,” he said.
Although a lot of money had been spent ordering new kit, including new Seasprite SH-2G(I) naval helicopters, MAN Army trucks and a PT-6 pilot training package, Coleman said there is not enough funding to enable personnel to run them properly.
The government soon will award contracts for a new battle training facility for the New Zealand Special Air Service and a systems upgrade for the Navy’s two Anzac-class frigates. A decision will also be made on a replacement for the Navy’s 453-foot tanker Endeavour, which has been operational for 26 years.
The Defence Ministry in October announced it had selected MBDA’s Sea Ceptor missile, subject to government funding, to provide local area air defense for the frigates, which are currently armed with RIM-7P semi-active Sea Sparrows.
Sea Ceptor is faster than Sea Sparrow, has greater range and its own radar, and because it is cold-launched its launch cells are smaller. This means that up to 32 missiles can be carried rather than only eight Sea Sparrows.
The two Anzac frigates were commissioned in 1997 and 1999, respectively. ■