Professor Robert Ayson is right to be uncertain about the likely shape of the future surface combatant force once HMNZS Te Kaha and Te Mana are withdrawn from service in the first half of the 2030s. But the reasons for uncertainty are a good deal more complex than Rob’s piece argues.
Robert writes ‘If I was Navy, and fond of my frigates, I’d regard with dread paragraph 204 of the DCP (government’s Defence Capability Plan of April 2019): “The ANZAC Frigates are scheduled to be replaced with modern surface combatants relevant to New Zealand’s prevailing strategic environment in the mid-2030s.” This is hardly a definitive commitment.’
It is hard to see why anyone thinking about the question of the replacement of the frigates would be unhappy with this drafting. The DCP says as much as needs to be said, or indeed can sensibly be said, this far out from any replacement decision, viz: the ANZAC frigates are scheduled to be replaced with modern surface combatants relevant to the strategic environment of the mid-2030s and well beyond.