P-8A project: Eyes on Ohakea
In mid March the first window panes were installed in what is a significant infrastructure build taking place at Ohakea to house the new P-8A Poseidons and associated support facilities.
This entire project is a significant investment to strengthen Aotearoa’s maritime surveillance capability and the infrastructure in particular is a boost to the local economy and communities.
“By the time the structure is built at the end of the year there will be about 600 panes of glass installed which all came from a local Levin factory,” says Sarah Minson, Director Air Domain at Manatū Kaupapa Waonga New Zealand Ministry of Defence. From that point the fitout of the two hangers, training centre, operations centre and administration block starts to take shape, ahead of the building being complete in 2023.
To support all this work, in what was an empty paddock at the base now houses an impressive array of portable structures, pathways, fencing and roading. All this was necessary preparation to support the 250 strong construction crew that are undertaking the $250 million build.
The scale of the works is immense, with cranes dominating the skyline.
“The structure is so large the roof is being constructed on the ground and the apron in front of the hanger alone the size of six rugby fields.”
In addition to the economic boost of the build itself, nearly 1000 people work at Ohakea and when No. 5 Squadron shifts from Whenuapai to operate the P-8As, that will increase to 1200 by 2023 – providing a boost to local businesses, sports teams and community groups.
The four P-8A Poseidons are a significant capability for Aotearoa, and will be able to undertake search and rescue operations throughout the Pacific and south to Antarctica, protection of the southern ocean, humanitarian and disaster relief in Pacific and New Zealand, as well as protection of fishing resources in New Zealand’s large exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in remote areas such as the southern ocean and around Pacific Island nations.
The first P-8A Poisedon is due to be delivered in December this year.