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Continuing Aid to Vanuatu

Cabinet Decides on C-130J

Keeping Bases Running During Covid-19

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Ready for the Battlefield

Contents 04

Cabinet Decides on C-130J Super Herc


Ready for the Battlefield





Aid Continues to Vanuatu

First Word



Air Warfare Training Takes to the Air



Our Heritage

Turning off the Hoses

32 Interning at DTA

30 33 Notices

34 Photo of the Month


SAR Mission Success


Keeping Bases Going Through Covid-19

OUR MISSION The RNZAF will provide New Zealand with relevant, responsive and effective Air Power to meet its security interests.

OUR VISION An agile and adaptive Air Force with the versatility essential for NZDF operations. COVER: CPL Britney Perkins at Ex Steel Talon PHOTOGRAPHER: LAC Rachel Pugh

Published by Defence Public Affairs HQ NZ Defence Force Wellington, New Zealand Editor Rebecca Quilliam Email: airforcenews@nzdf.mil.nz Design and Layout Defence Public Affairs Printed by Bluestar Private Bag 39996, Wellington Distribution Email: airforcenews@nzdf.mil.nz Editorial contributions and ideas are welcomed. They can be emailed directly to the Editor and do not need to be forwarded through normal command chains. Contributions need to include • writer’s name, rank and unit • photos provided separate from the text – at least 300dpi. Contribution deadline for the July issue: June 15 Air Force News will hold the copyright for submitted articles or photographs it publishes. Articles and photographs published in Air Force News cannot be published elsewhere without permission.



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WINNER Voyager Media Awards Winner for the Best trade/specialist publication, free magazine and/ or website

ISSN 1175–2327


First Word E

arlier in the year, when invited to write the “First Word”, I thought what a great opportunity, as the new Deputy Chief of Air Force, to briefly introduce myself, discuss a few (of the many) topical issues that we face and reinforce the flight path we have set in train for the foreseeable future – then the world changed. As we’re now only too aware a new form of coronavirus, ultimately named Covid19, has created a pandemic unseen across the globe in a century, with devastating results on populations and economies.



“Whatever unfolds in the coming months and years, all New Zealanders can take a great deal of comfort in knowing that the RNZAF, alongside so many others in our community, stands ready to serve when called upon to do so.”

Under this backdrop, one of the key aspects that has emerged for me has been the selfless response by those from within our communities whose motivation is driven by the desire to serve rather than for personal gain. We’ve seen, particularly in those countries where Covid-19 has hit hard, how fundamental this collective group of citizens, both military and civilian, are to a well-functioning and healthy society.

It’s this preparedness that’s also resonated very loudly across the Defence Force and the Air Force over these last couple of months. Our values as an Air Force and our desire to serve for the collective good has seen the RNZAF respond, in conflict and in peace, countless times in the past. In today’s uncertain world, this remains especially relevant and is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Whether you wear a uniform now or have done in the past, whether you are part of our non-uniformed team or whether you directly support our Force Elements or our bases as a defence contractor, your collective revolve to serve, when needed, is where we draw our real strength. So whilst my personal introduction will have to wait for a more opportune moment, I can think of no better time, in our recent history, to have been given the privilege of serving with Team Air Force as the Deputy Chief.

Here in New Zealand, thanks to our Government’s response of “going hard and going early”, we’ve been spared much of the pain and anguish that’s unfolded elsewhere. Nonetheless, those within our own communities whose drive is to serve others have worked tirelessly to ensure that we’re prepared and ready to respond to the worst.

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 3


Five New Super Hercules to join Defence Force Fleet

The Coalition Government has confirmed five C-130J-30 Hercules will replace the New Zealand Defence Force’s air transport fleet.

“Last year’s Defence Capability Plan identified these aircraft as the preferred platform to replace the current Hercules fleet as its highest priority project,” Minister of Defence Ron Mark said. Along with the new fleet, the $1.521 billion project will deliver a full mission flight simulator, training, and supporting infrastructure. “Generations of New Zealanders who have grown up and grown old with the Hercules know these work horses are an essential first line of response and this decision ensures the Defence Force will have the capability it needs to meet expected future demand and tasking.”

The Defence Force depends on air mobility support and some of its primary roles, such as supporting New Zealand’s civilian presence in Antarctica and conducting operations in the South Pacific, would be impossible to achieve without this capability. The new aircraft will carry a greater payload, is faster and can travel further than the current Hercules with no loss of ability to land. “This fleet will ensure the Defence Force can continue to support New Zealand’s community resilience, our national security, and our contribution to our Pacific neighbours and the wider global community.” The aircraft and simulator are being acquired through the United States’ Foreign Military Sales process as part of a package that includes aircrew and maintainer training.

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F U T U R E A S S E T S  |

“As with our decision to acquire the P-8A Poseidon fleet through the Foreign Military Sales process, this has reduced costs and allows collaboration with other nations on developments and system upgrades that will be necessary over the life of the aircraft.” The first of the new Hercules will be delivered in 2024, with the full fleet operating from 2025, allowing for a phased retirement of the current fleet. The flight simulator will help us to build and maintain crew skills, and allow more demanding training scenarios to be attempted without risk to personnel, and while preserving flight hours for operational tasking.

“This decision ensures tactical airlift will remain available to undertake operations in New Zealand’s immediate region, throughout the Pacific, including support for our interests in Antarctica often in support of other government agencies.” Work is expected to be initiated in 2021 on the second phase of upgrading New Zealand’s air mobility capability, when options will be considered for replacing the two Boeing 757 aircraft operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These are expected to reach their end of service life towards the end of this decade.


40.41 m


11.85 m


34.4 m


330 kts


21 Tonnes


128 Passengers

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|  O P E R AT I O N S

Euphoria after Successful Search Mission The crew of the NH90 helicopter involved in the successful search for Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds in the Kahurangi National Park say they never gave up hope of finding the pair alive.

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O P E R A T I O N S  |

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|  O P E R AT I O N S

“It was like threading a needle to get me in and out of the dense bush.” –Corporal Jason Denharder


Searchers for the trampers heading to the NH90 MIDDLE

Searchers and a search dog being flown to search areas TOP RIGHT

Night Vision Goggles being used in the search for the trampers BOTTOM RIGHT

A searcher being winched into a search area


he pair had been missing in the bush for 18 days after getting lost.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) supported the NZ Police and LandSAR for a week in the search for the two missing trampers before their rescue in late May. A civilian search helicopter directed the NH90, which had travelled from Base Ohakea to support the operation, to a small clearing – about the size of a small car – in dense bush after smoke was spotted. Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Loïc “Frenchy” Ifrah said despite knowing the area where to look, he could barely see the pair. “It was a pretty incredible spot by the crew, and of course a pretty big effort by the LandSAR and NZ Police, it was pretty impressive to watch it all unfold.”

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Air Force Search and Rescue Medic Corporal (CPL) Jason Denharder was winched down via a 150ft winch to assess the two trampers, and brief them on the upcoming winch extraction. FLTLT Ifrah said there were lots of emotions once the pair were on board the NH90 and flown to waiting ambulances. “We hadn’t given up obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t have poured our efforts into it; but as time went by and since bad weather had been in the area, thoughts did turn to the worst,” he said. “That adds to the sense of relief and euphoria.” CPL Denharder said the area he had to be winched into where the trampers were found was tiny and all of the crew did a fantastic job operating the helicopter to ensure the whole event was executed safely and efficiently.

O P E R A T I O N S  |

He wasn’t sure what condition Ms O’Connor and Mr Reynolds would be in after two weeks of having nothing to eat, so it was a relief to find them relatively healthy.

Finding fresh water was the key to the couple’s survival, he said.

“When I reached them Jessica said how pleased she was to see us and gave me a hug and then Dion came in and gave me a hug,” CPL Denharder said.

Despite the successful recovery of the two trampers, the NH90 crew were back in the area the next day to winch out 13 searchers and two dogs who remained in the area overnight.

“I gave them a quick winch brief and told them where to hold on and that they shouldn’t worry because I would be connected to them and we’ll get them into the helicopter safely.” The trampers were given chocolate bars when they were inside the NH90, he said. “They wouldn’t have been able to eat much, but they enjoyed them. Jessica had a Snickers and Dion had a Snickers and a Moro bar.”

“Without that, they wouldn’t have made it. A human body can only survive on water alone for about three weeks.”

Police have praised the work of everybody involved in the search for trampers. “It was an outstanding effort from a huge range of people and resources, and I can’t thank everybody enough,” Nelson Bays Area Commander Inspector Paul Borrell said.

“The assistance of our colleagues at NZDF was invaluable, with their NH90 helicopter proving an essential tool in the search, complementing work done by other helicopters and ground crews.” Search and Rescue Sergeant Malcolm York said search and rescue missions were “tough, treacherous work, and often it can be to no avail”. It was a fantastic example of bringing in a wide range of expertise and working together, he said. “We are so pleased to have been able to facilitate a successful outcome and bring Jess and Dion home.”

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No. 3 Squadron’s latest training has focussed on helicopter battlefield support for conventional forces. Crews will be qualifying in tactical battlefield operations and the training means aircrew will be better placed to deploy within a threat environment to support domestic, regional and global security operations.

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F F E A T U R E    |

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|  F E AT U R E

Aerial-gunnery, electronic warfare countermeasures, underslinging a light howitzer, fast roping artillery guns, troop movement, air assault and working alongside the New Zealand Army have all been incorporated into Exercise Steel Talon. LEFT

An NH90 flying into Waiouru during the exercise RIGHT

An NH90 dropping off NZ Army soldiers at Waiouru

“We have our other outputs like counter-terrorism, search and rescue and Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief missions. This is our chance to work with conventional Army units in that battlefield support role to ensure aircrew are prepared and proficient in working in that domain,” Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Tom McDowell said. It’s been five years since this particular type of exercise was held and the first time that flare countermeasure firing has been incorporated with it. The exercise was an opportunity for No. 3 Squadron to “get back to its roots” as a battlefield support helicopter unit and for aircrew to practice supporting conventional forces in a hostile or wartime environment, FLTLT McDowell said. Hypothetically, if the squadron was to be deployed to that type of environment, the results of the exercise gave commanders an idea of where the squadron is at with their competencies for a pre-deployment training package, he said. Training with the New Zealand Army was an important element of the exercise because it provides application and context to the fundamental skills of tactical low flying and procedures practiced by No. 3 Squadron aircrew on a regular basis.

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“When we integrate with the New Zealand Army we are exposed to that interoperability of joint tactical planning where we can assist the Ground Force Commander in ensuring the best effort is achieved with the employment of helicopters in a land manoeuvre. “It also allows us to build and develop the close working relationship between No. 3 Squadron and 1(NZ) Brigade,” FLTLT McDowell said. Another interesting component is the artillery gun lift, which falls under air mobility operations. The guns belong to 16th Field Regiment and the squadron will be working with them closely as well as 5 Movements Company who will be providing the rigging support to the lift. “The light howitzers can provide effective fire out to 11.4km and would typically be behind the forward line of our troops, providing indirect fire support to ground manoeuvre units. “The NH90 gives the ground commander the capability to quickly manoeuvre and advance the gun batteries within the battlefield, particularly where terrain prevents them from being towed by land vehicles. The light howitzers are wheeled, but as soon as you’ve got rugged terrain, then helicopters are your best bet and NH90s are a bloody good helicopter to quickly move them.”

F E AT U R E   |

“So this particular exercise is a chance to measure our level of capability and ensure we are set to grow from there.” – Flight Lieutenant Tom McDowell

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|  F E AT U R E

EYES ON TARGET Part of Corporal (CPL) Britney Perkins’ job as a helicopter loadmaster in No. 3 Squadron is to be proficient on the Mag 58 gun, which is used on the NH90 during a threat environment.

The training, incorporated with Ex Steel Talon, is a rare opportunity the crew gets to fire live rounds, during their “crawl, walk, run” phase of training, CPL Perkins said. “Throughout the exercise we’ll be utilising ammunition to simulate taking fire from an enemy and suppressing fire with the Mag 58.” Over the two-week exercise, the gunnery training took place in the first half and helped achieve currency and upgrades for rotary wing personnel. “We have started with blank firing and then we will move to live firing on the range,” she said. “We don’t do this particular type of training routinely and when we work with Army personnel we tend to have the guns and fly around Waiouru with blank ammunition.

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When it comes to live firing we usually only get one occasion a year – and this year it’s for this exercise.” It is a lot of fun – quite an adrenaline rush, particularly with crews exercising threat calls in a training environment. During the exercise the crew would be told of fire coming in and the helicopter loadmaster would then suppress fire towards that threat and the pilot would either continue flying or manoeuvre the helicopter appropriately to avoid that threat, CPL Perkins said. “The whole point of us exercising gunnery on Steel Talon is for No. 3 Squadron to focus on achieving that DLOC (Directed Level of Capability) training for us. Looking at upgrading personnel and maintaining currency for those users of the gun.”

F E AT U R E   |

HIGH FLYING TEAMWORK A strong premise running through Exercise Steel Talon is the relationship between the Air Force and the New Zealand Army.

This was strengthened during fast roping training at Linton Military Camp for members of the High Readiness Task Unit from an NH90 helicopter, hovering about three storeys off the ground. Lance Corporal (LCPL) Darren Pace said the training was to ensure the soldiers are qualified to work out of the Air Force’s NH90. “This particular training is really important to make sure that we can use it as an infiltration method in any situation. So if an NH90 can’t land on a surface including a building, structure or the ground, we can get on the ground and carry out our mission,” he said.

“It’s so important to have that interoperability between the two services. They are obviously operated differently, but it is so important that we have smooth-running processes operating between us, so that when we go overseas we work as a good team.” The NH90 was an ideal platform for the fast roping, “especially for the amount of people it can carry”, LCPL Pace said. “It’s quite handy for the High Readiness Task Unit and when we conducted an exercise involving weapons practice earlier this year it was great to see how well the infantry could work with the Air Force.”

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|  F E AT U R E

ADDING A TOUCH OF FLARE No. 3 Squadron has brought out its flares during Exercise Steel Talon. Aside from looking spectacular, the flares are an asset with a very serious function – as a counter measure to weapons directed at the aircraft.


No. 230 Squadron Electronic Warfare Intelligence Specialist* tells Air Force News about the reason the NH90s and other Air Force aircraft use the flares.

However, the development of threats against aircraft has evolved to a point where they can now differentiate between various flare types and aircraft signatures.

Aircraft have a couple of measures on board to counter weapons being fired at it, including flares, which provide a false heat signature and chaff, which emits a false radar signature, he said.

Because of this, the intelligence community has worked with scientists to “better model and trial flare characteristics and flare cocktails” so they are better in matching the profile of an aircraft from an infrared seekers perspective.

“We have been part of various countermeasure trials, domestically and overseas, working closely with the Five Eyes and NATO science and electronic warfare communities.” The NH90 helicopters, C-130 Hercules and SH-2G(I) Seasprites are all capable of firing flares and a lot of work goes into how they are released, he said. “We don’t just set them off all at once like you see in the movies.” The flares originally were designed just to provide an alternative signature to the heated parts of the aircraft including the engines and exhaust vents, he said.

The Intelligence Specialist described the measures as “differing countermeasure techniques” that attempt to counter the various discrimination techniques used by newer generations of Manpads. “At No. 230 Squadron we program the patterns, then upload the complete countermeasure libraries to aircraft in order to conduct further testing and trials. It’s the Defence Technology Agency and the scientific community that models the patterns for us then collaboratively we test the effectiveness against widely proliferated simulated threats.” *Not named for security reasons

“It’s the scientists who come up with the best flare cocktail to be effective against various threats that are widely proliferated. These are generally infrared guided man portable air defence systems (Manpads).” – Intelligence Specialist

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F E AT U R E   |

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|  C OV I D –19

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C O V I D – 1 9  |

Work Life Changes under Lockdown While most of the country stayed in their homes during the Alert Level 3 and 4 lockdown periods, essential work continued at the Air Force bases. Air Force News talks with the units who kept Base Auckland moving while the country stood still.


ropical Cyclone Harold could not have hit at a worse time in April, when Covid-19 numbers were ramping up and Alert Level 4 was in place. However, despite the challenges, a C-130 Hercules flew seven trips to Vanuatu and Fiji with desperately needed supplies and a P-3K2 Orion conducted five surveillance flights to report on damage from the Category 5 storm. Many trades were called on to ensure the essential work could continue, but each was mindful of keeping all personnel as safe as possible. Each unit created their own bubbles that worked in shifts and did not mix with the others. If any member became sick, the entire bubble would be isolated, but other shifts would not be affected. Virtual handovers were also put in place to avoid cross contamination. Air Movements Section Coordinator Flight Sergeant (F/S) David Wood said during the period 79 tonnes of freight was moved through the section. “A lot of different procedures needed to be put in place because of the virus,” he said. “Vanuatu hasn’t had reported cases of Covid-19 and Fiji’s numbers were quite low, so we’ve taken extra precautions around any freight that’s come in.” Within 48 hours of the freight being moved it was disinfected and then built up in an attempt to keep Port Vila and Vanuatu Covid-free, F/S Wood said. Base Auckland was also the port of first arrival for people being repatriated to New Zealand and so the unit had to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Customs.

“We’ve been running the Auckland Airport procedures with Customs and the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 teams, repatriating those New Zealanders and sending them to the quarantine accommodation,” F/S Wood said. Aviation Fuel Operations Flight Commander, Warrant Officer (W/O) Brooksie Brooks said they tweaked their existing processes to ensure rapid and comprehensive response when they were called on during the lockdown period. “We made sure our daily crews were working in three shifts in their bubbles for the whole time and that’s continued into Level 2. It’s working pretty well and it’s a good time for the unit to look at our operating procedures to see if there are ways we can work better and more efficiently and effectively in the future.” The amount of aviation jet fuel used at Base Auckland over the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 period amounted to almost three quarters of a million litres. This was 1/8th of the New Zealand national total (normally we are about 1/80th) and the highest throughput going back to when records began. “There was a significant increase of flying happening and the amount of fuel being used was huge,” W/O Brooks said. “At times we were receipting up to six Air BP road tankers each day just to keep the base fuel stocks at a premium level in order to meet demand.”


Firefighter Leading Aircraftman Isabel Whitaker at Base Auckland

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|  C OV I D –19

“During the stringent lockdowns we had several fire alarm callouts around the base. The crews were in their own bubble here and then went home to their other bubble.” – Flight Sergeant Nick Wyld

The Base Fire Service had their roles expanded to include airfield inspections and bird control, as well as keeping up with its day-to-day work. Base Fire Master Flight Sergeant (F/S) Nick Wyld said they also implemented a thorough cleaning routine of all surfaces that had been touched including vehicle handles and utilities in the section. “During the stringent lockdowns we had several fire alarm callouts around the base. The crews were in their own bubble here and then went home to their other bubble. “We were also looking after all afterhours medical calls, so we needed to be aware of all the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) requirements as well as updating our procedures, including not performing mouth-tomouth,” F/S Wyld said.

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Keeping the aircraft flying were the maintainers. Deputy Maintenance Flight Commander Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Nick Luther at No. 40 Squadron said the unit was divided into four groups that worked on rotational shifts. “All our handovers were either over the phone or via email. If someone contracted the illness then the whole team would be isolated. In that way we could still cover taskings from early in the morning until after midnight.” The aircrews also travelled in their own bubbles, so the team made sure that whoever was travelling with the aircraft attached to that particular aircrew bubble, FLTLT Luther said. No. 5 Squadron Maintenance Flight Commander Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Brett Tourell said the P-3K2 Orions were tasked with a number of flights during the period.

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The team was divided into shifts and the handovers between teams were succinct and done remotely. “What impressed me most was the team’s flexibility to make sure the work continued at all hours of the day or night. We had work taking place in the hangar from 6am through to midnight and sometimes beyond, the support of the families during such a disrupted time was really important.” Another key unit on the base was Base Medical. Sergeant (SGT) Rach Canham said they had to reduce their capability of seeing patients face-to-face which meant a lot of telephone consultations and phone prescriptions.

“We were acutely aware of having to wear our PPE and what the restraints were around seeing patients – especially patients with any cold or flu symptoms.” While the restrictions were now lifting, SGT Canham said the unit was continuing to lessen that face to face contact to reduce the spread within the clinic and around the base. “We encourage anyone with any symptoms to get tested because it’s only when we get the information about who has or hasn’t got it, that’s what helps bring down the chances of any community transmission.”


Refuelling a C-130 at Base Auckland MIDDLE

Leading Aircraftman Kelly Sunnex displays the PPE worn while dealing with patients during the Covid-19 outbreak TOP RIGHT

Maintainers working at Base Auckland BOTTOM RIGHT

The Talu, loaded with pallets bound for Fiji is directed up to the C-130 tail ramp

“We also had to determine if they had any Covid-19 symptoms before we would allow them to come in,” she said.

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|  C OV I D –19


SQNLDR Libby Reardon (middle) with CAPT Ana Vuniwaqa and Mr Lemeki Lenoa

Covid-19 and the WPS Agenda: A Fijian example B Y


The current Covid-19 crisis has meant a paradigm shift in our understanding of state security, with human security and public wellbeing now at the centre of national security.


his shift also links the virus and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, as tackling it requires both a gender lens and a people-centred approach. We know that outbreaks exacerbate inequalities, and economically women’s earnings are generally lower than men’s and they are over-represented in casual/ part-time work. Coupled with women generally burdened with the majority of unpaid care labour, women are more vulnerable to economic hardship and poverty during this time. But perhaps the most concerning is the worldwide trend of family violence rates increasing across the world since Covid-19 control measures have been put in place.

“Through it all, we included a gender-perspective, ensured appropriate community-focussed messaging and encouraged the participation of women.” – Squadron Leader Libby Reardon 22 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #225

This current crisis has many of the hallmarks of a traditional conflict, justifying the use of military force in support of a national response, as recently witnessed first-hand in Fiji. The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) established an operational planning team in mid-March, and were capable of reacting to an ever-changing daily dynamic. As a member of this team, I was impressed at how quickly we adapted to the demands of each day.  We provided a strategic overview to Ministers of Health, Defence and Infrastructure, as well as presenting a more tactical concept of operations to land force commanders.

Our internal messaging placed the community at the centre of government cordons and lockdown measures. We called for the inclusion of women in the patrol teams conducting quarantine enforcement, in support of Fiji Police, and generally led by female Ministry of Health officials. Each of our contingency plans included consideration of medical care, food and water security and highlighted the potential for family violence. We looked at population demographics and identified vulnerable communities. We analysed contingency plans and ensured human-security aspects remained at the forefront. We planned for a tropical cyclone and were ready when TC Harold hit in early April. Health kits and sanitisation supplies were delivered to the affected population, while evacuation centres maintained social distancing. We knew that the outcomes for Fiji could have been dire, but the cordons, containment, and curfews enacted limited the early spread of the disease. These measures were enforced by both Fiji Police and the military, with the WPS agenda included throughout the planning.  This current crisis has demonstrated both the agility of Fiji’s small military force, and highlighted that the WPS agenda is now, more than ever, a vital aspect for overcoming the ever-changing threats to our peace and securing the future of our nation’s people.

O U R H E R I TA G E   |

Delivering more supplies, returning citizens to Vanuatu

A C-130 Hercules has returned citizens and delivered more essential aid to Vanuatu, following widespread devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold in April.


ince the category five cyclone destroyed crops, infrastructure, and thousands of homes, the NZ Defence Force has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the delivery of essential supplies. Five C-130 flights had earlier delivered shelter kits including tools and tarpaulins, agricultural tools, generators, water containers, mother and infant kits as well as personal hygiene supplies. At the beginning of June, the Air Force made two further flights to Vanuatu, bringing the total number of flights to Vanuatu since the cyclone to seven.


A C-130 delivering aid supplies to Vanuatu and delivered nationals home

The first flight included 58 Vanuatu citizens and permanent residents, who were flown to Port Vila after the Government of Vanuatu asked for help to get them home following Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The second flight took a load of essential supplies, including kits for building temporary shelters. Air Component Commander Air Commodore Tim Walshe said the further request from the Vanuatu Government for more aid supplies meant the repatriation of 58 passengers could also be accommodated. As with all previous aid flights, precautions were taken to prevent any potential spread of Covid-19. This included pre-departure screening of the passengers, use of personal protective equipment on board the aircraft, and sanitation of all aid supplies prior to being loaded on the aircraft and again on arrival in Port Vila.

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Aviation Warfare Course Takes Flight

For the first time in decades the Aviation Warfare Course has taken place in New Zealand with the students’ first training flights, in a King Air 350, taking off recently.


he 11-month course is the newly established ab-initio training course for Air Warfare Officers and Royal New Zealand Navy Observers. It is delivered by No. 42 Squadron and encompasses military aviation elements, including multi-domain aeronautical navigation and aviation warfare principles. Once finished, graduates are posted to No. 5 Squadron, No. 40 Squadron or No. 6 Squadron (RNZN Observers) to eventually qualify on the P-3K2/P-8A aircraft, C-130 Hercules or SH-2G(I) helicopters. Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR) Christiaan Robertson said for the past 27 years the training had been done through the Royal Australian Air Force at RAAF Base East Sale, so being able to do it here was a “huge deal”.

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“To repatriate the Air Warfare Officer and Observer training back to New Zealand is a big responsibility for the Air Force, along with the introduction of the training platform, the King Air 350.” There are three aspects to the course that all students need to learn, he said. “We have to train students in strategic and tactical aviation procedures, tactical navigational training, maritime domain flying and visual navigation.” The course is split into four parts. The aviation phase looks at air route navigation, LTCDR Robertson said. “The students learn tracking and how to apply wind drift to situations. That’s all done in the mission console in the back of the aircraft.” The next phase is the maritime phase, where tactics and procedures in the maritime warfare domain are taught, he said.


EYES OF A I R WA R FA R E A key training asset for the Air Warfare students is a pod fixed underneath two of the King Air aircraft, which contains an Electro Optic/Infrared camera and a Multimode Radar. These feed imagery to the mission consoles in the cabin of the aircraft for the students to interpret. Air Warfare Specialist Sergeant (SGT) Jamie Gibbs said the students use the simulated imagery of the electro-optic system during their training. “The idea behind putting the pod on is so we can have actual sensors rather than simulated ones, which will help them with a real-world scenario, rather than a synthetic scenario,” he said. The pods were not an original feature of the King Airs, so the pods and mission hardware were incorporated by the ACTC contractor, Hawker Pacific. The first one was completed in Australia by Hawker Pacific Special Missions. The second was completed in Ohakea by their sister company Hawker Pacific NZ, SGT Gibbs said. “They fly out over the water at a low level, investigating and identifying maritime contacts.”

“It’s awesome for New Zealand to be able to bring back training like that and be able to call it our own.”

Once that is completed, the course moves to tactical navigation where the students learn how to visually navigate at a low level over land, which has a tactical component, such as reaching a geographic location at a specific time. That training takes place in the co-pilot’s seat where the student can get a good look outside the aircraft.

A passion for flying was behind PLTOFF Eyley wanting to join the Air Force.

From there the students move into a mission phase, which is more advanced for the specific aircraft they are likely to be posted to, LTCDR Robertson said. Pilot Officer (PLTOFF) Jasmine Eyley is an Air Warfare Officer student and she said it was great to be able to do the course “in our own back yard, in familiar surroundings, rather than travelling overseas”.


FLTLT Adam Palmer, PLTOFF Jasmine Eyley

“And then the role of Air Warfare Officer was because I was interested in the mission and tactical work.” It was good to get up into the King Airs because the environment was busier, in terms of listening to all the radio instructions, and being able to look out of the window to see the geography. “It’s an exciting time to be joining and doing the training because there is so much change happening now within the Air Force – it’s exciting to be at the head of that,” she said.

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|  WAT E R C R I S I S

Turning off the Hoses B Y


A drought crisis has hit Auckland after the city experienced the driest start to the year on record, which has resulted in Base Auckland’s Rescue Fire Service having to rethink how it does training.


alling dam levels have resulted in the first restrictions for water use for the city since 1994 and experts warn those restrictions could continue until next summer.

“We were asked by the Ministry for the Environment quite early on to cut down our water use, so that’s what we’ve done. We’ve changed our training routines to make sure that we are doing dry training.”

The restrictions include a ban on outdoor water use, which has meant Base Auckland’s Rescue Fire Service has had to limit its water usage.

The training included cutting open cars, more physical training and driving training, F/S Wyld said.

Base Fire Master Flight Sergeant (F/S) Nick Wyld said as well as training with water, the team normally tests the vehicles every morning by squirting water out of a water cannon on top of the truck to ensure it has the power it needs. “Our vehicles carry 6,800 litres of water, which we generally use every morning to make sure they are working properly and to train with.

26 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #225

“Those are the activities that don’t require much, if any, water.” By changing the training regime, the Rescue Fire Service was probably saving about 7,000 litres a day minimum, he said. “The training we are doing is enough to keep qualifications of the personnel current. “We have also sent some people down to Taranaki to a civilian training area, which doesn’t have water restrictions, and they can use the facility there.”

WAT E R C R I S I S   |

“We will still test the fire vehicle monitors every week to ensure they are working as they should, this will ensure that if we have an incident on the airfield we can ensure that it will produce the required volume of firefighting agent.” – Flight Sergeant Nick Wyld

Base Auckland, on the whole, is also aiming to reduce water use by at least 10 per cent to meet regional restrictions imposed due to the drought. New water conservation measures to meet the restrictions have been implemented and service personnel are being asked to conserve water use. Base Commander Group Captain Andy Scott, said in March, the base stopped watering its sports pitches and other green spaces, and washing all buildings and windows. “Alongside our on-base fire services reducing water use in their training activities, our vehicle fleet won’t be washed anymore, and we have reduced the amount of water we use to wash our aircraft, which is now only done after they have been flying over corrosive sea water.

“We have also closed our swimming pool and moved our sea survival training to the Waitemata Harbour,” he said. “RNZAF Base Auckland is proud to be a responsible member of our l ocal community, and will continue to look for more ways to conserve water and help the region through this period of drought.” Defence Force personnel at all Auckland bases are also being encouraged to conserve water at home in their communities by the required 20 litres per day.


Base Auckland firefighters dry training with tools to cut open a vehicle

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 27


Mirror Images B Y



LAC Shenea Whakarau, AC Tiani Whakarau

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# FAC E S O F YO U R FO R C E  |

Mirror image twins Leading Aircraftman Shenea Whakarau and Aircraftman Tiani Whakarau have identical DNA, interests and even jobs. The only difference is LAC Whakarau is righthanded and AC Whakarau is left-handed. Air Force News talks to them separately about how they came to mirror each other in the Air Force. Who joined the Air Force first? SH E N E A: I did. I joined and then I encouraged/forced Tiani to join a few years back. She doesn’t think I forced her, she reckons she decided to on her own. I knew she’d love it because I love it and we’re pretty much the same person, so I knew she’d be fine.

I decided I didn’t want to join any of the forces because that was Shenea’s dream, I didn’t want to copy her because we copied each other all of our lives because that’s what twins do. But after she kept on about it I decided I would join the Air Force. TIAN I :

What trade are you doing? SH E N E A: We’re both in Safety and Surface. I was dead against her coming in and doing the same trade as me as I didn’t want us on top of each other. But she ended up at a different base, so it worked out. TIAN I : When I first applied I put Logistics as my first choice and Safety and Surface as my second choice because I’m a real hands-on person and it sounded perfect. When I got Safety and Surface Shenea got used to the idea pretty quickly and now loves that we’re doing the same thing.

Why did you join the Air Force? SH E N E A: I was in the Service Academy before I joined for about two years and I pretty much knew I wanted to join the military. I originally wanted to join Force Protection as a dog handler but I missed out on the intake by two weeks. But now I know where I am now was definitely the better option. TIAN I : I thought the Air Force would be a good stepping stone to joining the Police, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that now because I love my job so much. Also, financially it was a good choice. But having the opportunity to play sports was a real perk. So there were a lot of positives.

Do you enjoy the same things as each other? SH E N E A: Yes,

literally everything.

TIAN I : Yes, we both love to play sport and hang out with friends. I’m probably more social and Shenea is a bit more of a home body.

Is there much competitiveness? SH E N E A: TIAN I :

Oh yes, totally. I always win.

Haha, I knew she’d say that.

Who is technically older? SH E N E A: Me

by six minutes.

TIAN I : Shenea always gets in that she’s older and the boss.

Sport seems to be a big part of life for you and your sister SH E N E A: Yeah definitely. We’re both black belts in Taekwondo, and we play Sevens, rugby, basketball, touch and netball. A couple of years ago I competed as a Taekwondo world champ and I managed to get a couple of grants from the Base Welfare Fund and Junior Rates and I also got representational leave through the Air Force. It’s been really supportive. TIAN I : We’ve grown up playing sport. Shenea and I played netball, basketball, touch and our main sport was Taekwondo. It’s easy being an AC and being able to play the sport in the Air Force, there are so many opportunities.

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 29

|  O U R H E R I TA G E

50 Years On: RNZAF Skyhawk Purchase and Arrival B Y


Last month marked 50 years since the McDonnell Douglas A4-K Skyhawk, one of the most iconic and longest-serving aircraft in the history of the RNZAF, first arrived in New Zealand.



he adoption of the Skyhawk by the RNZAF was the result of a protracted political and military discussion which was sometimes played out in the New Zealand media. By the mid-1960s, the Air Force was being re-equipped to meet the new and changing needs of modern warfare.


TO SEE MORE: To mark the anniversary, some of the best Skyhawk images taken by RNZAF photographers have been made available in a feature album on the Air Force Museum’s online photo database: www.airforcemuseum.co.nz/ photographs/

30 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #225

Under Chief of Air Staff Air ViceMarshal Ian Morrison, new Americanmade aircraft were introduced. The first helicopters entered service, in the form of the Bell 47G Sioux and UH-1D Iroquois. Transport flying was enhanced by the purchase of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, while at sea, maritime strike and protection was modernised with the replacement of World War Two-era Short Sunderland MR.5 flying boats with the Lockheed P-3B Orion aircraft. These changes reflected the closer strategic relationship with the United States, as well as Australia, in the 1960s.

In 1965, it was decided that two squadrons of modern attack aircraft could be sustained, and the search was on for a suitable candidate. There were several possible choices and different aircraft were favoured by different factions in the decision-making process. All of this discussion took place against a backdrop of needing to show allies (in particular the Unites States) that, in Morrison’s own words, New Zealand was ‘pulling its weight in quality’. The biggest problem was financial opposition from the Treasury, who favoured the cheap Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter in worsening economic conditions. The New Zealand military argued that modern combat capability was essential to the survival of the RNZAF as a capable force. With a Military Sales Agreement with the USA close to ending, a reduced fund for purchasing ensured that there was no choice in the end. The McDonnell Douglas Skyhawk was about all that could be bought for the $15.2 million available.

O U R H E R I TA G E   |



A subsonic aircraft, it fitted the requirement. In June 1968, Cabinet approved the purchase of 14 of the 18 aircraft required – 10 single seat combat aircraft (A4K) and four two-seat trainers (TA-4K). Over the next two years, RNZAF air and ground personnel travelled to the United States to train on the new aircraft. Both impressed their American hosts with their aptitude and professionalism. Other New Zealand personnel also travelled to Vietnam in early 1970 and studied how the Skyhawk was being used in combat there by the United States Marine Corps. On 1 May 1970, the USS Okinawa, a US Navy amphibious assault ship, set sail for Auckland with the whole RNZAF Skyhawk fleet on deck under weatherproof covers. The journey went well until a day out from Auckland. A stormy swell caused some anxious moments and a day’s delay, but the ship emerged from the storm with its cargo intact. At 9.30am on 17 May 1970, the Okinawa berthed in Auckland and the aircraft were unloaded.


An anticipated anti-Vietnam War protest did materialise, but with reduced numbers due to the ship’s delayed arrival. Those who were there lined street corners with placards. Towing the aircraft to Base Auckland by road was a slow and tricky process, with trolley bus overhead cables and various other obstacles on the roads, but by evening all the aircraft had arrived safely. Once at Whenuapai, all the aircraft were inspected and test flown, with the first being NZ6254 (now on display at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand) on 20 May. They were then flown down to Base Ohakea, ready for service with No. 75 Squadron. A new era in RNZAF history had begun.


A Skyhawk being lowered from the USS Okinawa TWO

RNZAF pilots from No. 75 Squadron before leaving for the USA to convert to Skyhawks THREE

Skyhawks being towed through Auckland streets on the way to Whenuapai FOUR

Skyhawks under construction at Douglas Aircraft Company, Longbeach, California, US FIVE

Line up of Skyhawks on the tarmac at Base Ohakea, 1970 Photos: RNZAF Official

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 31


Interning at DTA B Y


We recently worked in the Space Lab at the Defence Technology Agency (DTA) contributing to the development of a payload for a small satellite (CubeSat).


e are both studying Engineering at university and this internship was part of our work experience on the Air Force Undergraduate Scheme. Our main roles were to model the effect of satellite orbits on payload utility, create a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for the lab and flight hardware for the payload, and prepare the Space Lab and associated cleanroom environments for handling the actual payload hardware. For modelling the satellite’s orbit, we used a powerful 3D modelling software package, the Systems Tool Kit (STK). The kit can model ground vehicles, satellites, aircraft, behaviour and movement patterns, radar communication systems, and can mimic the behaviour of flight hardware in a user-created scenario. We used STK to model, analyse, determine, and demonstrate the ideal inclination and altitude for the CubeSat hosting the DTA payload to maximise the performance of the payload. CubeSats are small and compact. This makes them difficult to cool as there is no air to conduct heat and nothing to block the sun’s radiation. As such, finding a suitable configuration for the hardware and components is vital. We designed CAD models for the development and flight hardware to give multiple assembly options. Some of these boasted a more compact configuration, while others offered better heat dispersion or easier access. This will help DTA negotiate with international partners the optimum structure for the host CubeSat,

32 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #225

depending on which features are of the most importance. In order to develop, build, and test this payload, DTA has built a Space Lab which contains a modern cleanroom. This is a room with positive relative pressure, designed to keep particles and dirt away from the satellite’s hardware as nothing can be cleaned or repaired once in space. We played a part in preparing the lab and cleanroom and taking measurements to ensure that the air quality meets the required standards. All of this work is being done as the NZDF needs to be up-to-date with the rest of the world when it comes to space technology and operations. Through its research activities, DTA is leading the way in gaining knowledge and experience in space technologies. This endeavour is helping to shape NZDF thoughts on the nature of our future space requirements. The future of Space Systems in DTA is looking very exciting and hopefully we can continue to be a part of it.


(L–R) Officer Cadets Nick Ellery, Diardu Terblanche discuss the potential orbit and implications on payload performance TOP RIGHT

(L–R) Officer Cadets Diardu Terblanche, Nick Ellery examining the payload flight hardware in the cleanroom BOTTOM LEFT

A rendering of the CAD model for the DTA payload in the optimum heat dissipation configuration

N O T I C E S  |




Hosted by RNZAF Base Ohakea Open to current and ex-serving RNZAF personnel Rangitikei Golf Course 1–5 Nov 2020 18 and 36 hole divisions

POINTS OF CONTACT: Auckland: raewyn.ansell@nzdf.mil.nz Ohakea: roger.perkins@nzdf.mil.nz Wellington: isaac.hastings@nzdf.mil.nz Woodbourne: stephen.anderson@nzdf.mil.nz


REUNION 2021 AUCKLAND MARCH 26-28 Details to follow... Watch this space

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 33


34 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #225



“I took this shot during a search and rescue operation for two missing trampers. Having left Ohakea a few hours before, the crew were geared up and ready to conduct some night flying aerial searches over the Kahurangi National Park. As it got darker, I used my camera to capture scenes with slower shutter speeds and higher light sensitivities to help me see what was happening. Normally, speedlites are a photographer’s best friend in any helicopter frame, but in these night flying situations when Night Vision Goggles are used, keeping your camera as still as possible to capture a crisp, blur-free shot is the best way forward.”

AIR FORCE NEWS #225  | 35

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds). Then dry.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.

Stay home if you feel unwell.

For updates and more information on keeping yourself safe, visit Covid19.govt.nz


Profile for New Zealand Defence Force

Royal New Zealand Air Force | Air Force News - Issue 225, June 2020  

Air Force News is a monthly magazine that strives to inform its readers about the latest news from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It cover...

Royal New Zealand Air Force | Air Force News - Issue 225, June 2020  

Air Force News is a monthly magazine that strives to inform its readers about the latest news from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It cover...

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