Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced today the arrival of HMNZS Te Kaha in Canada, where a major upgrade of its sensor and weapons systems will be undertaken.
Focused on the frigates’ surveillance, combat and self-defence capabilities, this upgrade is the latest in a series of projects that will extend the vessels’ operational life to around 2030. Earlier projects delivered a refit of the frigates’ propulsion, heating and air-conditioning systems, and the close-in weapon system.
“There is a significant programme of work to upgrade or replace New Zealand’s defence equipment that aims to maintain the safety of our military personnel and the country’s ability and readiness to deploy when needed, both in this country and overseas,” says Mr Mark.
An additional $148 million was approved by Cabinet to ensure the upgrade could proceed, bringing the total project budget to $639 million. To fund the cost overrun, and consistent with the Coalition’s commitment to fiscal prudence, Cabinet agreed to reallocate a portion of the money that was provisioned in Budget 2017 for the Littoral Operations Support Capability project.
“The Government’s decision reflects the value placed on our frigates and their ability to operate across and support a wide range of operations.
“In the time the frigates have been operational New Zealanders have come to expect their involvement in constabulary and humanitarian, to combat roles as part of a multinational coalition. These contributions are valued by our international partners.”
When completed, the frigate will have updated equipment and systems including the combat management system, radar and underwater sonar.
Following an international tendering process, the contract for the work was awarded to Lockheed Martin Canada. The company’s design for the systems upgrade of 12 Royal Canadian Navy Halifax Class frigates has been adapted for use in New Zealand’s vessels.
“New Zealand and Canada have a close and enduring partnership based on shared history and common interests. Our cooperation on the Frigate System Upgrade is a demonstration of the maturity of our bilateral relationship, which continues to strengthen in 2018,” says Mr Mark.
The 25-day passage to Esquimalt in British Columbia, where the upgrade will take place, was marked by a brief port visit in Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor where Te Kaha and her crew represented New Zealand as part of the United States’ commemoration of Presidents’ Day.
For the final leg of the voyage, the crew was supplemented by a group of 10 Royal Canadian Naval Reserve personnel who had an opportunity to experience working life on board the frigate.
The upgrade of the second frigate, HMNZS Te Mana, is scheduled to take place in 2019.