Forces: May 11, 2001


New Zealand's left wing Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has unveiled plans to rebuild the New Zealand military for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions rather than it's traditional training for a combat role. The old frigate Canterbury will be replaced by an offshore patrol vessel rather than another warship. The upgrade for the Orion patrol planes has been downgraded to eliminate upgrades to the anti-submarine capability. The A-4K Skyhawks will be taken out of service within the year, leaving the New Zealand Air Force without fighters for the first time since it was created. New Zealand has given up plans to provide more flight hours its force of 18 A-4Ks, which would have moved these aircraft from the Basic Operating Capability to the preferred status of Operational Level of Capability. There is just not enough money to fund the higher number of flight hours required, and there no longer is any need to improve the capability of the Skyhawks. The Army may be restructured to eliminate its artillery battalion, replacing it with an infantry battalion configured specifically for humanitarian missions.--Stephen V Cole




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