No fly­ing visit: De­fence Force dis­putes Ja­pan re­port

The Press - - Business - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

The De­fence Force has shot down a re­port that Ja­pan and US com­pany Boe­ing are in a ‘‘one-on-one fight’’ to sup­ply mar­itime pa­trol air­craft worth more than $1 bil­lion to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The Gov­ern­ment con­firmed in Novem­ber that it planned to re­place its fleet of six Orion mar­itime pa­trol air­craft, five Her­cules trans­porters and two Boe­ing 757s within about the next 10 years.

Ja­pan’s Nikkei Asian Re­view re­ported New Zealand would de­cide on re­place­ment air­craft as ‘‘early as this [north­ern] sum­mer’’.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Ja­panese De­fence Min­istry and Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries vis­ited Wellington last week to ne­go­ti­ate the sale of Kawasaki’s P-1 pa­trol air­craft and C-2 trans­porters in what would be Ja­pan’s biggestever arms ex­port deal, it said.

But De­fence Force spokes­men said it had not re­ceived such a visit and was ‘‘not in­volved in any ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment or Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries’’.

The spokes­men in­di­cated there would be no de­ci­sion on re­place­ment air­craft this year.

‘‘A large num­ber of pos­si­ble sup­pli­ers from sev­eral coun­tries have re­sponded to the ini­tial re­quests for in­for­ma­tion is­sued last year, and the De­fence Min­istry ex­pects to get a de­ci­sion from the Gov­ern­ment on pre­ferred op­tions and call for ten­ders in mid-2018,’’ one said.

The Ja­panese re­port quoted an un­named Ja­panese de­fence of­fi­cial as hav­ing said that the con­tract to re­place the Ori­ons would be a straight com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Kawasaki and Boe­ing, which is pitch­ing its P-8 pa­trol air­craft.

But the re­port said sev­eral com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Europe’s Air­bus, were com­pet­ing for the trans­porter con­tract.

Kawasaki’s P-1 air­craft – which cost about US$140 mil­lion (NZ$200m) – are de­signed to hunt sub­marines and sur­face vessels. Buy­ing the pa­trol air­craft as well as the trans­porters from Kawasaki could save money as they shared some parts, the re­port said.

The Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment would ne­go­ti­ate a treaty to share de­fence tech­nol­ogy with New Zealand and Kawasaki would con­sider jointly pro­duc­ing some parts of the planes here, the re­port said.

Both Kawasaki’s four-en­gine P-1s and Boe­ing’s twin-en­gine P-8 air­craft can carry bombs, tor­pe­does, mines and air-to-sur­face mis­siles, such as the US-made Har­poon mis­sile.

Kawasaki’s P-1 air­craft can carry tor­pe­does and sea-skim­ming mis­siles – but New Zealand is ‘‘not in­volved in any ne­go­ti­a­tions’’ with the Ja­panese com­pany.

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