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First Steel Cut for New NZ Fleet


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From www.defence-aerospace.com


(Source: Tenix Defence; issued Feb. 22, 2005)


Tenix Defence began cutting steel for the NZ$500m Project Protector naval shipbuilding contract at its Williamstown, Melbourne shipyard today. NZ Secretary of Defence, Mr Graham Fortune, switched on computerised cutting equipment to begin manufacturing plates for two 85m, 1500 tonne Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The ships are being constructed as part of Royal New Zealand Navy seven-ship order, which includes four 55m Inshore Patrol Vessels and a 131m Multi-Role Vessel, as well as the Offshore Patrol Vessels. Tenix Defence CEO Robert Salteri said the ceremony at Williamstown underlined the skills and capabilities developed by Tenix Defence and its suppliers and subcontractors in Australia and New Zealand. "Tenix Defence won the Project Protector contract last year in global competition, against shipbuilders from the UK, the Netherlands, Singapore and Germany," Mr Salteri said. "This followed our successes first with completing two FFG frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, then the 10 ANZAC frigates for the Australian and New Zealand navies. "Tenix has assembled a team with the world class skills to take on competitors from the leading shipbuilding nations, winning major domestic and export orders and providing jobs, wealth and training," Mr Salteri said. The seven ships are being built at three locations:


--The Multi-Role Vessel is being built in the Netherlands, with final fit-out at Williamstown.

--The Offshore Patrol Vessels will utilise the modular construction method used with the ANZAC frigates. Modules will be built at Williamstown and the Tenix facility at Whangarei in New Zealand, and the ships will be consolidated and launched at Williamstown.

--The Inshore Patrol Vessels will be constructed entirely at Whangarei.

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Well, sort of. The Air Combat Force was disbanded. A plan to lease 28 American F-16A/B Block 15s was axed in March 2000. They would have replaced the fleet of A-4K Skyhawks that have since been withdrawn from service, together with the MB339C trainers. The 2, 14 and 75 Squadrons that flew them disbanded in late 2001. I think the 17 A-4K/TA-4K Skyhawks were sold to Air Training Systems International (ATSI) in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Aermacchis to the Malaysian Air Force.


Since then, the RNZAF has spent most of its time (and money) upgrading the transport and maritime patrol/recce fleets, that is, the five C-130H Hercules and six P-3K Orions. They also bought a pair of Boeing 757-200s to replace their ageing 727s.

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