New Zealand Defence White Paper 2016

Always interesting to see how our partners and long time allies are approaching their different, but sometimes related, defence and security challenges.


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In addition to maintaining the Defence Force’s existing mix of capabilities, the Government will invest in:

better supporting sea-to-shore operations with a littoral operations support vessel that can operate in medium security environments;

enhanced air surveillance capability to better enable the Defence Force to undertake air surveillance operations at home and overseas;

a cyber security support capability for the protection of Defence Force networks, platforms and people; and

additional defence intelligence personnel to support military operations.


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June 8, 2016 8:39 pm

Quote: better supporting sea-to-shore operations with a littoral operations support vessel that can operate in medium security environments;

Hmm, sounds like a new vessel is being procured, but in reality I suspect they’re just going to stick some extra guns, and armed boats (CB90? Raiders?) on the Canterbury.

But speaking of the Canterbury, Project Protector was a good idea that nearly worked. If they hadn’t tried to cut big holes low down in a commercial ferry design, or miscalculated the displacement of the OPVs so that their ice belt rested below the waterline (both problems which could have been solved by using off-the-shelf designs instead of trying to be a little too clever), then the project would have been an outstanding success. As it is, it’s still pretty good.

June 8, 2016 9:17 pm


No, it’s new-build hybrid survey/dive support vessel with a range of other capabilities. Documents were released to the market some time ago.

By “They” I assume you mean BAE?

June 8, 2016 10:21 pm

SOme more recent decisions ( in last 6 years ) seem confused. They have bought a dozen high end turbo prop primary trainers, yet all pilots then have to be retrained for helicopters and multiengine aircraft as they have no fast jet force anymore.
They had bought brand new Karman SH-3G naval helicopters but those were run down and maintenance/ repairs werent done, so they then bought all of Australias refurbished SH3s after the Australian designed combat software didnt work.
The current inshore and offshore patrol boats are mostly tied up at the wharf, so getting another OPV doesnt seem to fill a need.
The Orion patrol replacement hasnt been thought through yet, and seems unlikely they will be replaced by high end anti submarine aircraft at all.
There was a deep financial and operational ‘ bottom up’ review done in the last 18 months looking at what was affordable, but has led nowhere as the existing capability is still pencilled in for replacement.
As UK knows , thats not going to happen

June 8, 2016 10:33 pm

Point 1: Thanks for the correction. I missed that announcement.

Point 2: And yes, ‘they’ referred primarily to the contractors who, as usual, worked to the exact letter of the requirements without ever blinking, taking their client aside and whispering ‘You sure about this, gov? You do know it could sink in a mild chop if you cut big ‘oles in it, right?’

Because why shouldn’t they take that kind of enlightened view? It doesn’t cost them anything. They still have the contract and, if anything, they’d be liable to get another contract on account of being helpful and easy to work with! They know the client might have made mistakes and has a lot of inexperienced people working on the project, primarily because they don’t do this very often whereas the contractor does it every day.

But noooo… jobsworth tossers stick religiously to the KURs and damn everyone and everything else – they’d build you a submarine that could only submerge if you asked for it and never bat an eyelid, and then they’d sleep well that night.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 9, 2016 10:29 am

Duker, it’s not a question of being retrained for helicopter and multi-engine aircraft. The standard process for training pilots for helicopters, or for aircraft like the Hercules and Orion that they operate, involves initial flight training with single-engine, fixed-wing, turboprop aircraft. The Texan T6 is an appropriate lead-in trainer for in-service NZ aircraft.

40 deg south
40 deg south
June 10, 2016 3:46 am

In addition to Brian’s comments, I’d note that the contract for the Texans was signing in Jan 2014. First aircraft was delivered in July 14, the 11th and final one arrived in December 14. The package included two simulators, other ground-based aids and a 30-year support contract. Cost was (from memory) around NZD$150 million, or about 75 million pounds.

NZ wanted a rugged well-proven trainer in service with allied nations, able to withstand salt spray and with a long service life. The Texan and the Pilatus PC-7were short-listed, and the Texan won out. A factor may have been Beechcraft’s ability to deliver quickly – the previous training fleet had allegedly developed wing cracks.

By the standard of most military procurement contracts, this one strikes me as gold standard.

40 deg south
40 deg south
June 10, 2016 3:56 am

BAE bought Tenix Defence in early 2010, by which time NZ had already accepted Canterbury and the overweight OPVs were in the water. I don’t disagree with all your comments, but BAE can’t be blamed for this cock-up. They were doubtless not well pleased to discover they had bought a bunch of ‘remediation’ liabilities along with Tenix’s business.

The IPVs are tied up because of short-staffing in some technical trades, and RNZN’s belief they are not really up to the job, The OPVs, by contrast, are worked pretty hard. Hence the desire to get a third one, albeit one optimised for the Southern Ocean that will comply with new legal requirements (MARPOL?) post 2018.

One advantage NZ has is the absence of a local military industry, meaning we can buy off-the-shelf from whoever is offering the best deal. Under those conditions, it will be interesting to see who gets the OPV contract. Hyundai is penciled in for the tanker (beating out DSME with a Norwegian-size Aegir), and the tender for the Littoral Warfare (aka dive support/hydrographic) Support Vessel should be released soon. The largest of the new Damen series TD linked to will almost certainly be a contender.

June 10, 2016 6:11 am

Went to NZ for a family visit (aunt) in Jan-Feb, it really brought home to me all the different thinking growing up in a different environment can have.

“Why the hell are the roads going *around* the hills!!!!”
-lol I know, it’s easier on construction, cost and maintenance, but coming from a country where SOP was to flatten the hill and pave it over, it seriously bugged me that the roads didn’t go over or through the hill in a straight line

“Wood? Is that safe?”
-Houses made of wood. Something from “ancient history” to me. I know it works, but there is still the feeling that a hard sneeze would bring the whole place down.

Really brought home to me that local conditions can cause different desire for equipment requirements.

If I had to write New Zealand’s motorized infantry vehicle specifications, I’d actually keep it to technicals and UTE sized vehicles, even if they were thin skinned. That would allow them to use NZ roads for rapid redeployment. I fear things like 8x8s would be too wide for the roads, which can be quite narrow.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 10, 2016 2:23 pm

Who’s going to invade New Zealand, Observer?

They have though taken part in a number of overseas operations, including NATO and UN led ops. Being a small country, their contributory combat contingent has previously been incorporated within larger British Army units, and probably with other allies too. They need equipment relevant to their combat and peacekeeping roles, and to their allies.

June 10, 2016 9:39 pm

Good point BB, another example of different operating differences. My automatic assumption of an army being mainly for local defence is another difference that resulted from a difference in how we operate.

June 11, 2016 5:24 am
June 11, 2016 9:50 pm

The idea that any ships in RNZN are worked hard is matched by the reality when the days at sea were accounted for.
last year there were only 9 days for one boat, while 2011 they had 33, 32,31 ,20 respectively over the 4 boats. Even around 30 days back then wasnt seen as being used to their potential

The real reasons are no money as the RN would know as well.

40 deg south
40 deg south
July 11, 2016 10:41 pm

In the absence of the sorely-missed Open Threads (pretty please, TD. We all promise to be good!), I’ll post a few minor updates in this long-dormant thread.
This provides all the background Cabinet papers behind the recent White Paper. Interesting reading for the obsessive, even though most of the juicy details are redacted.

The long-running question over whether NZ would purchase the final remaining unsold C-17 is over. RNZAF was keen, but the government said no. Current plan is a ‘like-for-like’ capability replacement (presumably trading the 50-yr-old C-130Hs for Js) in the early 2020s. Reading between the lines, the Air Force is hoping ‘alternative platforms’ (aka. A400) will have sufficiently matured by 2018 when the subject will be re-visited.

Also, RNZAF heroically battles a flour shortage in the Pacific.

El Sid
El Sid
July 12, 2016 12:59 am

Bread and circuses – the age-old tools of empire. Got to keep the South Pacific islands sweet, the All Blacks need them!

Thanks for the White Paper stuff.

40 deg south
40 deg south
July 16, 2016 1:54 am

El Sid
Having spent a fair bit of time in the Pacific lately, a few months on the pre-European diet of taro, fish and coconuts would do the population a world of good. Flour, sugar and tinned corn beef mean the rising generation is more likely to make an impression in the sumo ring than on the rugby field.

An interesting comment from the Defence Minister last week in the Budget Estimates debate:

“That is why we also want to invest heavily in better surveillance aircraft. The Orions are a great aircraft. They have done marvellous work, over a long period of time, and the air force has extended that life beyond what might normally be expected. The avionics on them are state of the art and as good as anywhere in the world. But new aircraft—and we want four of them—is what is required and we will be acquiring those in the early part of the 2020s.” (h/t Chis73 from the DT forum)

If they are replacing six P-3Cs with four airframes, it pretty much has to be the P-8. Also talk of an aircraft that can do a return trip to Antarctica without refueling, which will gladden the hearts of downcast A400 salesmen.

Mind you, we have elections in 2017 and 2020, so nothing is a done deal.