The Defence Review

The Government has announced terms of reference for the Defence Review. I have a proposal which I think will result in a better Defence Force. It is:

To abolish the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a seperate section of the the New Zealand Defence Force

I propose this with a sense of sadness. I think it was an appallingly bad decision for Labour to unilaterally (it was not in their policy and they did not consult on it) abolish the strike capability. If National had won in 2002 then it would have been possible to reverse that decision, but ny 2008 it is no longer possible – the pilots have all gone overseas etc.

So my point is that without the RNZAF having a strike capability, it is unnecessary to preserve it as a seperate section. The existing aircraft and helicopters should be transferred to the Army and Navy as appropriate.

It costs a lot to have your own section. I just don’t think you need all the costs and bureaucracy of a section whose job has sadly been downgraded to mainly transport. Are we going to one day have an Air Marshall and Air Vice Marshalls whose only experience was flying a Hercules?

This is not to denigrate any of the great officers of the RNZAF. I think moving them into the Army and Navy will result in better and mroe integrated opportunities for them. So what would I do with the current aircraft:

  • Six Orions go to Navy as already used for maritime patrols – No 5 Squadron
  • Five Seasprites also go to Navy, as they are used from frigates – No 6 Squadrom
  • 14 Iroquois and Five Sioux (and future NH90 choppers) to Army – No 3 Squadron
  • Five Hercules and Two 757s to Army – No 40 Squadron
  • Five King Airs to Army – No 42 Squadron

Now I’m not a military expert and welcome feedback on the idea. The bottom line for me is that without a combat or strike capability, the Air Force has become more of a support role for the other sections, so it is best to recognise that reality.

Some people advocate not just going to two sections, but one. The idea is it would stop the infighting between the services. I’m not convinced we should go that far.

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