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Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)

No 5 Squadron
6 x Lockheed P-3K Orion

No 6 Squadron
5 x SH-2G(NZ) Seasprite

No 40 Squadron
2 x Boeing 757-200
5 x Lockheed C-130H Hercules

Expeditionary Support Squadron
No 3 Squadron
14 x UH-IH Iroquois
5 x Bell 47G-3B-2 Sioux

Flying Training Wing
14 x CT-4E Airtrainer
5 x Beech King Air B200
Ground Training Wing

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is a critical component of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and New Zealand's security posture. It provides a military air capability that meets the requirements of the New Zealand Government; a capability that is characterised by its swift response, its long reach and ability to adapt to a range of contingencies. This air capability incorporates a joint operational focus based on air power doctrine and will be near the forefront of technological developments.

To operate RNZAF aircraft and equipment, people must be motivated, skilled, honest and loyal. It takes people that are responsible and who take great pride in their service and their allegiance to New Zealand. As a member of the RNZAF they are prepared to protect the security interest and people of New Zealand. RNZAF personnel have the opportunity to experience the world in a way few other people can. No matter what role they are in, people will never find another profession quite like it.

While the RNZAF can be considered to be small in terms of the range of roles it undertakes and the number of aircraft it operates, especially when compared to other armed forces, it prides itself on being an air force that aims to be judged as the best in every aspect of its operation. The RNZAF is a high profile organisation, often attracting media and community attention as it goes about the business of a professional Air Force. It works closely with other like organisations and is a part of the wider New Zealand Defence Force and the whole of New Zealand Government approach to advancing New Zealand's defence and security interests.

The Chief of Air Force (CAF) commands the RNZAF and sets its strategic direction. CAF is responsible for ensuring the operational preparedness of the RNZAF, including the requirement to raise, train and maintain the operational units which are assigned to the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand for the conduct of operations and joint exercises.

As part of his overall responsibility CAF provides the supporting aeronautical logistics, training, personnel and career development and management, plus associated corporate support services required to operate the Air Force. The Air Staff, a component of Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force, carries out policy formulation, capability planning and development, and financial management for the Air Force.

The CAF is also required to raise, train and maintain the operational units of the Air Force. The operational units of the Air Force are assigned to the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand for the conduct of operations and joint exercises.

The air combat force was currently made up of three squadrons. No. 14 Squadron, based at Ohakea, provided lead-in jet training on 17 Aermacchis (purchased 1991). No. 75 Squadron, also based at Ohakea, provided the operational output using 12 A-4 Skyhawks. No. 2 Squadron was based at Nowra, New South Wales, Australia with a squadron of six A-4s. No. 2 Squadron provided air defence support training for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) under the terms set out in the Enhanced Nowra Agreement (ENA) between the NZDF and the Australian Defence Force (ADF). No. 2 Squadron also provided fighter lead-in flying training for pilots assigned operational roles in No. 75 Squadron.

New Zealand's Prime Minister since 1999, Helen Clark, came from the left wing of the New Zealand Labour Party. She had also been a leader of the anti-nuclear movement. Shortly after winning the 1999 election, the Labour government canceled a lease-to-buy agreement with the U.S. for 28 F-16 aircraft. The decision to lease 28 F-16 aircraft from the United States, was seen by some as part of the previous National Party government's efforts to develop closer ties with the United States while upgrading New Zealand's air force. However, Labour did embark on a significant defense upgrade and acquisition plan.

In May 2001, the government announced it was scrapping its combat air force. New Zealand states itmaintains a "credible minimum force," although critics maintain that the country's defense forces havefallen below this standard. New Zealand still maintains the fleet of A-4 Skyhawk and Aerromacche jets left over from the scrapping of its combat air force. Its attempts to sell the jets have thus far failed.

The Maritime Patrol Force comprises No 5 Squadron equipped with six P-3 Orion aircraft based at RNZAF Base Auckland. These long-range patrol aircraft contribute to a wide range of Government Outputs, including the conduct of maritime surveillance of New Zealand's EEZ, the Pacific region and the Southern Ocean, search and rescue missions, and maritime air operations. The Squadron maintains two Orion aircraft ready to deploy on operations and to undertake emergency tasks.

The Fixed Wing Transport Force comprises No 40 Squadron operating five C-130H Hercules and two Boeing 757 aircraft operating from RNZAF Base Auckland. The Squadron is prepared to conduct strategic and tactical military air transport operations, including aeromedical evacuation. The Squadron maintains two C-130 Hercules aircraft ready for deployed military operations and one Boeing 757 for strategic (non-deployed) transport tasks.

The transport fleet plays an essential role in supporting NZDF operational deployments and exercises through the transport of military personnel and equipment. The Hercules bears the brunt of the air deployment task as the only aircraft in the inventory capable of carrying large equipment, and being able to fly into many deployed locations. The Hercules are also occasionally used to carry out tasks on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, particularly within the South Pacific, as well as meet government's humanitarian air support tasks.

The Boeing 757 aircraft entered RNZAF service in 2003 in the strategic transport role. Both aircraft are planned to be upgraded by conversion into a combination freight/passenger configuration, beginning in 2006. These modifications will significantly increase their air transport capabilities.

The Rotary Wing Transport Force comprises No 3 Squadron, which operates 14 Iroquois utility helicopters from RNZAF Base Ohakea. The Squadron undertakes a wide range of military tasks, including the conduct of tactical air transport in support of the other Services, counter-terrorist operations, plus a range of government directed civilian support activities, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance missions. The Squadron maintains up to six Iroquois helicopters ready to be deployed on operations. In recent years the unit has deployed for extended periods to Timor Leste as part of a United Nations Force (1999 - 2002), and to Solomon Islands (July 2003 - July 2004) as part of a combined operation with Australian and South Pacific forces. The Squadron also holds two helicopters on standby within New Zealand for rapid response and search and rescue tasks. Helicopter training is undertaken on five obsolescent Sioux helicopters

The Naval Support Flight, which in the near future will be established as a fully independent Squadron under the command of CAF, operates five SH-2G Seasprite helicopters in support of Navy operations. It is shore based at RNZAF Base Auckland. The helicopters are maintained and supported by the Air Force, while the Navy pilots who operate the aircraft are trained by the Air Force.

In 2018 the Coalition Government decided to buy four P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The P-8s are a once in a generation purchase, and will ensure that the Air Force’s crucial maritime patrol capability is maintained for decades to come. The project is on schedule to replace the P-3K2 Orion fleet from 2023. A project to deliver an Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability is also underway. This was first announced at the time of the P-8A decision. This complementary capability will consider smaller manned aircraft, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or satellites, for additional maritime surveillance tasks within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the wider region. This will free up the P-8s to fly more missions, in the South Pacific and further afield. Defence Minister Ron Mark announced 11 June 2019 the selection of the C-130J-30 Super Hercules as the preferred option for the replacement of the aging C-130H aircraft. The replacement of the five Hercules transport aircraft is the highest priority project within the Coalition Government’s Defence Capability Plan 2019. Cabinet decided to seek detailed costing information for a replacement aircraft, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules. “The current Hercules have served us well since the 1960s, but they have reached the end of the road, and suitable and proven replacement aircraft will need to be sourced,” says Ron Mark. ”The current fleet is increasing in cost to maintain, and is taking longer to put through maintenance.” “After considering the range of military air transport aircraft carefully, the Super Hercules has been selected as it offers the necessary range and payload capability as well as fully meeting NZDF’s requirements,” said Ron Mark. A price will be sought through the United States’ Foreign Military Sale process for the C-130J-30 Super Hercules, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

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Page last modified: 14-06-2019 18:13:17 ZULU