Thursday, June 16, 2016

More defence waste

Last week we learned that National wanted to spend $20 billion on new toys for the defence force. One of the immediate criticisms - apart from the spending being inherently wasteful and aimed at producing a defence force fit to serve American, rather than New Zealand, interests - was NZDF's poor record on procurement, which sees costs escalate and escalate and escalate. And today we have a fine example of that, in the form of another $100 million cost increase on an upgrade to the navy's frigates.

The government remains committed to the upgrade of the Navy's two frigates, despite a $100 million increase in the cost of the project.

The weapons and communications systems on HMNZS Te Mana and HMNZS Te Kaha will be upgraded in Canada.

The cost was originally expected to be up to $374m, but has risen to $472m, and the upgrade will now be completed in March 2019, 13 months late.

The frigates will get upgraded missile defence, communications and radar detection, torpedo decoys and an overall combat management system. other words, the usual pointless crap aimed at being a vessel useful for fighting other people's wars, rather than the things we actually want our navy to do.

And then there's the kicker: that extra $100 million on the navy's gold-plated upgrade of its pointless vanity vessels? That, right there, is the cost of the third, ice-strengthened offshore patrol vessel they want (even at the inflated price they paid for the originals). You know, the ship that does the things we want our navy to do - fisheries patrol, aid delivery, search and rescue - rather than wandering off to the Middle East to "show the flag" to our "allies".

The conclusion is clear: we should scrap the frigates. Anything useful they do can be done by smaller, cheaper vessels at a fraction of the cost. And by taking military options off the table, we prevent our government from dragging us into other people's conflicts.