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New Zealand reduces EMAC to data fusion effort

The NZDF plans to procure the RQ-20B Puma for integration into the proposed Data Fusion System alongside new P-8A maritime patrol aircraft. (AeroVironment)

The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to engage with industry suppliers in May to inform the evaluation criteria and scope for a new Data Fusion System (DFS) for maritime domain awareness.

A request for proposal (RFP) is expected in June-July 2023, but the DFS was originally supposed to be the first phase of the MoD's now defunct Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability (EMAC) project worth NZD300–600 million (USD184–368 million).

However, the MoD has insisted that EMAC has not been cancelled.

Anton Youngman, deputy secretary of defence policy and planning at the MoD, told Janes, “Defence is continuing to work on the EMAC programme, with an indicative business case for phase one under way. The first phase of this project is focused on a data fusion system – referred to as the All-of-Government Maritime Domain Awareness (AOGMDA) project.”

However, the DFS industry briefing announcement released on 27 April indicates that since being renamed as the DFS, the AOGMDA project is now a standalone effort – a considerable downscaling of the original programme that would have introduced additional surveillance platforms.

EMAC was supposed to deliver a range of satellite surveillance, uncrewed aerial vehicles, and fixed-wing surveillance capabilities that would support New Zealand's civil and defence air surveillance capability. According to the Defence Capability Plan 2019, EMAC was intended to “free up the new P-8A maritime patrol aircraft fleet to fly more missions in the South Pacific and further afield”. A request for tender for EMAC was due in 2020 and scheduled to achieve an initial operating capability in 2023.

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