New Defence Force boss on working with China - 'We have discussions about how we can cooperate in the South Pacific'

The new Chief of the Defence Force says technology will develop the way the New Zealand army operates in the future. 

On TVNZ1's Q+A last night, Air Marshal Kevin Short said the role of the defence force and the number of people needed will change. 

"Technology allows you to fight a conflict differently, whether it's with a very complex RPAS – remotely piloted air systems. I'd rather call it that than drones."

The Defence Force want RPAS by the mid-2020s. 

Fast changing technologies like unmanned aircraft are a key focus for new Defence chief Air Marshal Kevin Short. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're still looking at that technology. We'll never be what I call the leading edge, we're more of a technology follower," he said.

"We've got to look at the size and cost of our defence force, and we've got to look at how we can inter-operate with our friends and allies. It's always going to be a balance."

Balance was also needed with New Zealand's relationship with China, with Air Marshal Short saying operating with China is possible, despite tensions. 

"China, we have a defence relationship with them. We've actually got a five-year plan that we look at how we will work together. We exercise with them. We have high-level strategic dialogue discussions.

Host Corin Dann asked about the power conflict between US and China in the struggle for influence in the Pacific region, and how much of a factor it was. 

"We still can operate together. We haven't stopped engaging. We in fact recently had one of their aircraft come down and operate in what is called Skytrain.

"We have discussions about how we can cooperate in the South Pacific."

“Technology allows you to fight a conflict differently,” said Defence Force Chief Air Marshal Kevin Short. Source: Q+A