Saturday, March 11, 2017

RNZAF joins military spending mania

According to Janes the RNZAF is kicking the tyres of the hugely expensive P-8A Poesidon as a replacement for the P-3K Orion. How much could that cost? Well don't expect much change from $1.5 billion.

To put that in perspective that's just shy of $1 for every $100 that changes hands every year in this country. It's a shit ton of money.
Along with the Navy's acquisition of a $500 million oil tanker I would argue that this shows that both the Navy and the Air Force are now keenly competing to waste as much taxpayer funding as they possibly can before someone works out that spending $20 billion on defence is an act of flagrant irresponsibility.

According to the National Assessments Bureau the greatest security risk to New Zealand comes from extremism. Extremism will almost certainly breed in conditions of poverty (as it does everywhere). Taking money from poor taxpayers to buy useless war toys can only make our security worse, not better. What New Zealand needs right now is better social housing, mental health services and police.

But what is a P-8A Poesidon anyway? Here's one here:

As you can see it's basically it's a Boeing 737-800 jetliner, which has been gutted and rejigged to be an anti submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. It's the latest greatest technology which the US has built and the Australians bought into. They have a unit cost of $350 million each. Given that the sticker price on a new B737-800 is $137 million that shows that most of the cost of the aircraft is the weapons systems and radars.

So that will deal with our submarine problem then. Except that the Department of Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet National Assessments Bureau doesn't think there is a submarine problem. It certainly wasn't in the top six John Key spoke of in 2015. In fact even the Defence White Paper admits there isn't really a submarine problem. Why? Because since the demise of the Soviet Union we are out of range of almost every potential hostile submarine in the world.

So why do we need to spend $1.5 billion on ASW aircraft? The answer is quite simple. We have a squadron of ASW specialists and if they don't get new aircraft, what are they going to fly? Duh! This is what the New Zealand Defence Force calls logic. The rest of us call it empire maintenance.

Beause if we were to emulate Norway or Ireland and suddenly get all rational and European about it we wouldn't have a Navy or an Air Force. Why? Because navies are for fighting other navies and air forces are for fighting other air forces. The people who do fisheries patrol and search and rescue are called the Coast Guard.

You see Coast Guard vessels and aircraft aren't built for combat. They don't have to contend with the latest stealthy anti shipping or anti aircraft missiles. They just have to contend with criminals, and typically they don't get access to that kind of hardware. That makes a huge difference when you are outfitting your ships and aircraft. A cost difference.

So if we aren't actually going to hunt submarines any more, and our defence cooperation obligations largely come down to sending the SAS, then how about this. How about we don't buy a fleet of 737s armed to the teeth? How about we do this instead:

1. Use Rocketlabs to launch our own low earth satellites for surveillance and signals
2. Buy very long range UAVs that can fly for a week at a time for surveillance
3. Buy new transport aircraft and use them for SAR intervention.

It's cheaper, it's better, and it uses our own industry more leaving money in the kitty for the real things that matter for both society and defence. Stopping the conditions that lead to extremism.

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