Monday, December 15, 2008

New Generation Aircraft

Earlier in the year Dominion Post Defence correspondent Hans Kuiper ran a story suggesting that at some unspecified time in the future the Airforce might be in the market for the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.

Its always hard to know with stories of this kind exactly what the circumstances behind it were. Was this a speculative discussion that turned into a bit more because it promised the chief reporter a cool picture for the front page on a slow news day or a deliberate bit of leaking by the Air Force in an attempt to butter up public opinion? I personally prefer stupidity theories over conspiracy theories and doubt that the Air Force which is in the middle of re-engineering the C-130H airframe, the P-3K sensor suite and the 757's cargo capacity really has plans for an enormous spend-up in the near future.

That said my view is that if anyone deserves money spent on them it is the airforce. The Army spent several hundred million on LAV IIIs which in all probability will never be used on active duty more than twice (and then just to make a point); the Navy has spent billions on ships which show the flag and not much else; while the poor cousins - the airforce - fly mission after mission to rescue people, protect the EEZ and get our people to where they are wanted. While the $180 million HMNZS Canterbury limps around trying not to kill any more sailors the airforce is out there flying rings around it.

My defence study was originally designed as a retrospective view of how the Defence Ministry/Force could have made better choices over the past 15-20 years. Now I am turning my attention to look forward. The study site is being extended with examinations of future options for the NZDF starting with a look at how the airforce could be modernised with the replacement of the C-130H and P-3K aircraft.

This examination draws on work from the earlier study but also includes a look at new options such as the P-X/C-X and C-390 which were not included in the study period of the original study.

Further topics will be canvassed in future on the site at