The New Zealand (NZ) Government has approved a deal for the upgrade of critical infrastructure at Royal NZ Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea.

Under the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme, the first phase of the NZD206m ($125m) deal work will commence later this year.

Over the following five years, the investment will be made in three phases.

NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “Critical compliance and safety issues will be addressed, as well as upgrades to fuelling and logistics facilities, taxiways and aprons, accommodation and fresh, storm and wastewater reticulation.

“Demands on Base Ohakea are increasing with four busy fleets of aircraft, the NH90 and A109 helicopters, the KA350 small transport and training aircraft, and the Texan pilot trainer.

“In the near future the base will need to be ready to accept the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet.”

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For final project and funding arrangements for each phase, approval from the cabinet is required.

RNZAF Base Ohakea, which plays a key role in maintaining NZ’s national security, serves as a principal staging point for NZDF operations.

It is also often used as the point of entry for the armed forces of the country’s strategic partners.

Mark added: “The changes provide flexibility to respond to future demands on the Defence Force and will ensure the base can accommodate these aircraft for several decades to come.”