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  • Chris Luxon, the leader of the National Party and New Zealand’s likely next prime minister, has sounded more open to joining the AUKUS Pillar 2 technology initiative than the Labour party was.

    ​​​​​​AUCKLAND — The chances that New Zealand will sign up to Pillar 2 of the AUKUS agreement have dramatically increased following New Zealand’s general election on Oct. 14.

    ​​​​​​New Zealand is looking at is the package known as AUKUS Pillar 2, which involves the sharing of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, cyber, undersea capabilities, hypersonic weapons, information-sharing and electronic warfare.

    One of the drivers for this is that Canada and Japan are also interested in joining Pillar 2 as well. The US seems keen to have all FVEY's nations onboard as well as Japan inside the Pillar 2 tent. Japan now has intelligence sharing and defence co-operation agreements with all FVEY members and is a major Indo-Pacific ally for the US and a global technological giant.


    • New Zealand frigate

      This is HMNZS Te Mana, one of two Anzac-class frigates in the RNZN. How to replace them is a key component of the future fleet structure. (Gordon Arthur) New Zealand Contemplates How To Best Manage A Small Fleet Of Ships

      The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) commenced an industry engagement exercise with the release of a request for information (RfI) on 8 September. The document, entitled Maritime Fleet Market Research for the Defence Capability Plan, revolves around how the navy can better manage its fleet with limited dollars.

      Gordon Arthur 30 Oct 2023

      All except one ship in the New Zealand fleet – which comprises two frigates, two offshore patrol vessels (OPV), two inshore patrol vessels, a multirole vessel, replenishment vessel and hydrographic/diving vessel that cumulatively require a core crew of 647 personnel – are up for replacement by the mid-2030s.

      The RFI acknowledged: “The current fleet configuration of nine ships across six classes, with many aspects of bespoke design, is increasingly difficult for the Royal New Zealand Navy to manage. Maintenance, operational management and training requirements differ significantly between ship classes.”

      Having only one or two vessels in each class may provide breadth of capability, but little depth. That means the ideal vessel may not always be available when needed. With this in mind, the navy is thus considering alternative ways of operating.

      Specifically, the RFI seeks to gather information on the following: fleet configuration options; alternative crewing, operating and support concepts; new technologies; consideration of approaches to reduce environmental impact; increased partnering arrangements with industry; and reducing the complexity of New Zealand Defence Force systems and structures.
      HMNZS Canterbury is the RNZN’s solitary multirole vessel, but the design’s commercial origins mean it has not been a perfect amphibious solution. (Credit: Gordon Arthur)
      The scope encompasses naval ships, landing craft, unmanned systems, mission planning and simulation/training facilities, but it does not extend to naval helicopters or ship boats.

      The RFI’s target audience is companies who offer maritime consultation services; maritime through-life providers; manufacturers of ships, uncrewed systems, mission planning and training solutions; and maritime commercial crew services.

      Market research data gleaned from this RFI exercise will inform a Defence Capability Plan due in 2024. The last plan was issued in 2019, and the Royal New Zealand Navy does not simply want like-for-like vessel replacements.

      Currently, there are 2,219 Royal New Zealand Navy personnel and a single base at Davenport in Auckland, but the force is suffering badly from retention and recruitment issues. Thus, workforce optimisation is a priority. This might entail crew rotation models, using civilians in specialist roles aboard or ashore, mission planning support ashore or advanced training and simulation for capability generation.

      Dr. Peter Greener of the Centre for Defence Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, noted that personnel numbers in July 2023 were almost exactly the same as in July 2020.
      “However, what these numbers don’t reflect is the loss of experienced, qualified tradespeople. The RNZN attrition rate has stood around 12%, but it’s the loss of skilled engineers and the like which led to three ships being tied up from late 2022…”
      Dr. Peter Greener, Centre for Defence Studies at Victoria University

      The three vessels tied up are the OPVs HMNZS Wellington and Otago, and the inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea. Dr. Greener further informed Naval News that “retention does seem to be improving since the announcement of significant pay increases”.

      The RNZN is being forced into creativity. This may involve reducing ship classes, achieving greater concurrency across platforms, adding unmanned technologies, reducing complexity and bespoke solutions, or reaching new partnership solutions with industry.

      Perhaps the most important consideration is how to replace two Anzac-class frigates. Certainly, looming block obsolescence gives the RNZN huge opportunities to redesign its fleet. It is therefore commendable that the navy is developing new options to inform government investment out till 2040. Is vessel modularity the answer?

      The Cube concept from SH Defence in Denmark envisages more than 300 different modular payloads that can be added, removed and exchanged aboard vessels. (SH Defence)
      Even though modularity is increasingly popular, no single platform yet fully encapsulates the concept. Nonetheless, Dr. Greener highlighted the applicability of the Cube modular payload concept unveiled by Danish company SH Defence in 2020. This containerised system is not tied to a ship’s fixed superstructure, plus it encompasses the infrastructure to handle modules ashore and on board the vessel.

      Incidentally, Denmark introduced the original Standard Flex (StanFlex) modularity concept some three decades ago, and first adopted on Flyvefisken-class corvettes. In fact, the driver for the Royal Danish Navy was very similar to New Zealand’s – the need to replace 22 warships in three classes with a reduced number of vessels.

      Modularity is alluring, as standard hulls with spaces for self-contained mission modules can be swapped out and easily upgraded over time. It also shifts more of the maintenance and training burden ashore, and helps alleviate obsolescence management. For example, maritime strike modules could add missiles and sensors to a ship, while a swappable maritime interdiction module might be used for regular sea patrols.

      However, there are limits. Modularity seeks acceptable performance over a wide range of requirements, rather than optimal design for specific requirements. This leads to compromises. The lower cost of modular payloads may be seductive, but it can result in vessels with suboptimal performance for their intended roles. In other words, a ship can become a jack of all trades, but master of none.

      For instance, the USN’s Littoral Combat Ship envisaged three variants – antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures and surface warfare. Ultimately, the USN abandoned the idea of swappable modules, plus the mission types often conflicted with the basic design parameters of the LCS.

      Because affordability is critical to New Zealand, it cannot start from scratch creating modularity. This could give rise to cooperation with like-minded allies such as Australia or the UK, with the latter’s Type 32 frigate programme exploring modular payloads.

      The RFI discussed unmanned technologies too, and Dr. Greener pointed out that the Royal New Zealand Navy is already putting such systems to good use, one example being the Remus 100.
      “The RFI suggests that autonomous or remotely operated uncrewed air, surface and sub-surface vehicles may be operated from ships, but would initially be seen as complements to a ship’s capability. This leaves a wide range of options open.”

      New Zealand contemplates how to best manage a small fleet of ships - Naval News
      For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


      • The latest deployment of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-8A Poseidon to a multinational fisheries operation has identified 74 fishing vessels in a vast search area.

        A two week operation that involved patrolling the EEZ's of 16 small Pacific nations, which collectively cover an area 40 times Irelands EEZ.


        • 161 Battery exercising in Hawaii with DivArty elements of the US 25th Infantry Division.


          This is really useful training and it is great to see them taking interoperability to the next level in been trained on the M777.

          One of the spin offs of Plan Anzac signed earlier this year with the Australian Army is that their will be much more joint training between both Army's who will also train to be fully operable using each others equipment, which the US Army does generate significant TRADOC opportunities for countries who they like to take part in when they often don't have that spare capacity.


          • With a newly elected coalition Government in New Zealand there is a new Minister of Defence and our Intelligence Agencies, Judith Collins (63) a former Police, Justice and Veterans Affairs Minister in the previous John Key Government (2008-2017). Ms Collins whose nickname is "Crusher" has close ties to 1 NZSAS Regiment for over 20 years as they are based in her South Auckland constituency. She will be a safe pair of hands who will make sure the NZDF is looked after.

            Collins is the first woman to hold the Defence Minister portfolio which includes the two semi-civilian Defence intelligence agencies GEOINT and the Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security. Ms Collins concurrently also holds the Minister of the GCSB and NZSIS intelligence agencies as well as the minister responsible for the recently formed Space Agency. She has previously been a member of the Intelligence and Security select committee and a former National Security and Intelligence opposition spokesperson.

            Chris Penk (43), a former naval officer and qualified submariner who has served in the RNZN on the Anzac Class and in the RAN on Collins Class is the new Associate Minister of Defence appointed to support Ms Collins in her workload. Chris deployed in the Gulf as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In politics he has since served on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee and was formerly the opposition spokesperson for Defence and Veteran Affairs. I believe we are very fortunate to have such a qualified junior minister in the role who really knows the Defence inside and out.

            The new Prime Minister Chis Luxon as is tradition for the PM also holds the portfolio of Minister of National Security which includes oversight of the whole Defence and Intelligence sector including other smaller and less well known civilian intelligence agencies the National Assessments Bureau and MI (the existence of MI was only admitted publicly this year when the media found out their was an intelligence agency employing 115 people on six figure salaries for the last few years hidden within a large government department and that nobody knew they were there).

            Luxon (53) is new to politics and only entered Parliament in 2020 having been the CEO of Air New Zealand for the previous 8 years. To go from a first term backbench MP to PM in 3 years is either remarkable or just an example of how rubbish most politicians are. Possibly a mix of both. The incoming Deputy PM and Foreign Minister is Winston Peters (78), a political veteran who was first elected to Parliament 45 years ago and this term will be the 3rd time he has held both the FM position.


            • 78 is old for a politician here. Most at that stage here are seeking the 7 year President job (comes with free house, driver, armed security,catering and nobody tells you to shut up).
              After 60 most are looking to Europe for a Commission post. The Smart ones try to stay out of the limelight.
              I like the Associate Defence Minister idea. Modern society means few, if any politicians have any experience in defence (thankfully). Having an adviser with hands on experience must prove a great advantage.

              The real question is, What's the timeline for return of Fighter Jets bearing a Kiwi roundel?
              For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


              • Originally posted by na grohmiti View Post
                The real question is, What's the timeline for return of Fighter Jets bearing a Kiwi roundel?
                I think the incoming government will concentrate on getting the things which are must haves first such as the SOPV which was the rationale behind selling the two IPV's to the NS and then paused due to Covid. Also the project for the 2nd tier maritime surveillance aircraft to supplement the P-8's also paused by the outgoing government. Finally the replacement of the SeaSprites by 2028 which will cost serious coin as their is really only one option the MH-60.

                The thing with new build fighters at the moment is that the wait list other than the FA-50 Block 20, nothing else is either viable in a production slot or even cost capability sense unless you wish to wait until next decade. Even with the Block 20 you are now looking at 2027 as Malaysia are wanting 18 with 18 more on option and the Poles want another 36. That said KAI are looking to double production. Frankly by the time Ireland and NZ get off their backsides to consider such things, maybe through last minute desperation, it will be too late!

                As an aside KAI announced they are developing the single seat version by 2028 by taking out the rear seat and installing a fuel tank to increase range and adding extra avionics. They are also currently integrating the Taurus KEPD-350-2K cruise missile on the FA-50 which will give it standoff land and maritime attack capabilities - which was always the last capability gap the platform had to solve to become a legitimate lightweight multirole fighter. There has been discussion about KAI installing the higher thrust F404 INS (19000 lbs) which GE developed for the Tegas instead of the F404 102 (17700 lbs) or even the F414 (22000 lbs) used on the KF-21.