In a related story, the Royal New Zealand Navy had to request help from the New Zealand Warbird Association to conduct an air defense exercise for two of its frigates. The Navy requested they fly mock attack missions against the frigates HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Te Kaha on exercise in the Bay of Plenty. The Warbird Association provided a Hawker Hunter, a Fouga Magister and an A37B Dragonfly for a two-day exercise in March.
The Navy paid for the flight hours for the aircraft, and the pilots donated their time. A spokesman for the Warbird Association said they expected that similar requests would be made in the future due to the scrapping of the Air Combat Force.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force is suffering from the perception that its days are numbered. One training officer said it is difficult to recruit new cadets for its training programs. The General Service Training Squadron normally runs 3 twelve-week cycles of 120 cadets per year. During the first cycle in 2002, only 55 cadets graduated and one training officer stated that more airmen are leaving the service than joining. The quality of the airmen being recruited has also been questioned. The recruiting problems have been exacerbated by the demobilization of the Air Combat Force and the perception that the RNZAF will eventually be scrapped entirely.