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Saab positions Swordfish MPA for New Zealand requirement

10 March 2017
A concept image of the Saab Swordfish. Source: Saab

Saab is positioning its Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to meet a requirement in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) for a future air surveillance capability, the company has confirmed to Jane's .

A Saab spokesperson said that the company has already briefed New Zealand procurement officials about the strengths of the Saab Swordfish system as the RNZAF prepares to replace its six existing Lockheed Martin P-3K2 Orion MPAs, which have been in service for several decades.

Jane's understands that the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a request for information (RFI) to support the procurement in 2016.

The spokesman confirmed that the Saab offer is based on the Bombardier Global 6000 long-range business jet integrated with the Saab Swordfish mission system. He added that this will "ensure the full spectrum of MPA and multimission capabilities (over water and over land) including anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare" capabilities.

Extolling the virtues of the Swordfish, the spokesperson added, "The Swordfish equals, and in several cases exceeds, the capabilities of larger platforms but delivers a significant advantage in terms of acquisition and long-term life-cycle costs."

The spokesperson also confirmed that Saab has already commenced discussions with New Zealand industry about how the Swordfish can be supported locally if the system is procured by the RNZAF. "Saab is also working with New Zealand industry to ensure that New Zealand has a sovereign capability to adapt, modify, and support its Swordfish fleet throughout its entire service life," he said.

According to New Zealand's Defence Capability Plan (DCP) 2016, which outlines military requirements over the coming 15 years, the RNZAF will replace its Orions in the mid-2020s at a cost of more than NZD1 billion (USD700 million). The DCP said the investment is required in light of growing strategic drivers including the growth of submarine fleets in East Asia.

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