Forces: July 17, 2001


New Zealand's left-wing government continues to insist that the Air Force's fighters will be grounded by the end of the year and sold off, reducing that service to a few helicopters that will support the Army's new peacekeeping mission and six P-3K Orions which will not receive the planned weapons upgrades. (These Orions are part of a joint regional patrol system with Australia, which has 18. Without the planned upgrade, the New Zealand Orions would be all but useless in a combat situation.) Elections are due to November 2002 and the opposition parties have vowed to restore the Air Force's combat capability. New Zealand, a relatively small country, has the world's fourth-largest Maritime Economic Exclusion Zone.--Stephen V Cole


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