Lockheed Martin is pitching RNZAF Base Ohakea as part of its bid to provide advanced training for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, according to Radio New Zealand.
Already contracted to provide basic training for the RSAF at Pearce near Perth, Lockheed is competing to provide the aircraft and facilities for Singapore’s advanced Fighter Wings course, which is currently based in France using A-4SU Skyhawks. Aircraft under consideration as part of the bid include the KAI T-50 and Macchi M-346, and it is likely Lockheed would offer the T-50 as it assisted KAI with the aircraft’s development, and the T-50 features commonality with the F-16 which Singapore operates in large numbers.
“We do have some facilities here that would make that a possibility,” Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee told Radio NZ, “and I think that would be very good for the New Zealand Air Force as well as for the strengthening of our defence relationships.”
Ohakea, west of Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island, is home to the RNZAF’s Pilot Training School and Central Flying School, which operate the CT-4E Airtrainer, as well as 3 Squadron, which operates Iroquois and Bell 47G helicopters. It was home to 14 Squadron (Macchi jet trainers) and 75 Squadron (Skyhawk strike fighters) until the disbandment of New Zealand’s fast jet fleet in 2001.