Defence to replace frigates and planes - but with what?

Labour says the Government's planned $20 billion Defence spend-up is a list of generalities that doesn't specify what military hardware will be bought to replace aging frigates and planes.

New ship, planes and cyber capability are on the way – but some are asking whether the money could be better spent. Source: 1 NEWS

A Defence White Paper proposes $20 billion be invested in the next 15 years to replace the Air Force's Boeing 757s, the five aging C130 Hercules, the Orions, and the Navy frigates Te Kaha and Te Mana. 

There'll also be a new ice-strengthened offshore patrol vessel for the Southern Ocean and Antarctica and the refuelling tanker HMNZS Endeavour will be replaced with a more capable ship.

"It is essentially a list of generalities," said Phil Goff, Labour's Defence spokesperson.

"It doesn't tells us what they're intending to replace the frigates with. We know the Australian frigates will cost about a-billion-and-a-half each. It doesn't tell us what will replace the C130s or the Orions," he said. 

The money will also fund more cyber security support for the Defence Force and extra intelligence personnel to support New Zealand's military operations.

They will be hard decisions - ONE News political editor Corin Dann

"We need to know what others are up to particularly in military sense. But we also need to know specifically that if we have a plane in the air with its glass cockpit that it's not going to be inteferred with," said Gerry Brownlee, Defence Minister. 

ONE News political editor Corin Dann says the White Paper is a very impressive list, but probably the biggest criticism following its release yesterday is just what will the replacements be for the military hardware "and how are they going to go about doing that".

"So whatever government has to make that call in future - remember it's out 15 years - they will be hard decisions. And that's kind of been kicked down the road a little bit today."

Dann says to put the scale of the military spend-up into context, Health got about an extra $500 million in the recent Budget.

"Well that would probably buy you half a frigate or so. So this is big stuff."

Dann says the "general thrust" of the report seems to have been welcomed, with even the Greens saying they're pretty comfortable with it and he thinks that'll give the Defence Force "the confidence it needs to go about trying to make those purchases".

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