Minister of Defence Ron Mark turned the first sod of earth on the infrastructure works for the new P-8A Poseidon fleet at RNZAF Base Ohakea today.
“The Coalition Government’s investment in Ohakea will ensure the Royal New Zealand Air Force can manage, maintain and task the new fleet efficiently ahead of the first aircraft’s arrival in 2023,” says Ron Mark.
“The purchase by the Coalition Government of these aircraft to replace the aging 1960s-era P-3K2 Orions demonstrated a strong commitment to the security of New Zealand, and reinforced our foreign policy interests through enabling stronger defence contributions to Pacific and global security,”
“The Coalition Government will make the once in a generation decisions required, after years of under-investment leading to aging equipment and infrastructure,” says Mr Mark.
“Basing the P-8A fleet at Ohakea will be a boost for the economy and vitality of Manawatu and the surrounding region through the construction phase, and over the long term as around 270 members of the Air Force’s 5 Squadron bring their families to the area,”
“The works I am starting today will feed into the region in the form of engagement of local services, manufacturing, equipment and materials industries. At its peak the construction project will be employing around 300 people, many of whom will be recruited from the local area,” says Mr Mark.
The project’s infrastructure includes crew and maintenance simulators, an operations centre and hangar, warehousing and maintenance facilities.
There will be two phases of work. The first stage, which Ron Mark commenced today, has been awarded to Fulton Hogan and involves site preparation, roads, utilities and runway aprons, at a cost of $64.5 million.
The second phase, focused on building construction, will be subject to a separate procurement process, with work expected to start in the second quarter of 2020. The total cost across both phases is estimated to be over $200 million. All infrastructure work is expected to be finished by early 2022.
In July 2018 the Coalition Government announced the decision to buy the fleet of four P-8A aircraft at an overall cost of $2.346 billion.