Aircraft head to Southeast Asian exercise

By Luz Baguioro, Public Affairs Manager – Joint Forces New Zealand 

A P-3K2 Orion aircraft from the RNZAF’s Airborne Surveillance and Reconnaissance Force and a Seasprite helicopter are among 45 aircraft taking part in a threeweek warfighting exercise held by the world’s second oldest military partnership. Exercise Bersama Shield 17 is a Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) exercise, being conducted from April 20 – May 9 in Singapore and Malaysia. The annual naval and air exercise is conducted under the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which is made up of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The NZDF has also sent the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE KAHA, the tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR and about 270 personnel to the exercise. Acting Wing Commander Ben Till, who is leading the NZDF contingent, said TE KAHA was the flagship of the maritime task group, with Commanding Officer Commander Steve Lenik serving as the task group commander. In the first phase of the exercise, the various forces would integrate, followed by five days of extensive training, he said. “This will culminate in a two-day warfighting scenario against a fictional enemy, requiring the participants to 
test their skills in defending the maritime force from conventional attack.” In addition to TE KAHA’s leading role, ENDEAVOUR will conduct replenishments at sea of participating ships, while the RNZAF Orion will engage in anti-submarine warfare and carry out maritime patrols. Joint Forces New Zealand Commander Major General Tim Gall said the NZDF had taken part in the Bersama series of exercises for years because we recognised the importance of enhancing the tactical skills of our people as well as strengthening defence cooperation with our FPDA partners. “Through the exercise, the five countries will be operating in a coalition environment and will be testing their ability to operate jointly in the event or threat of an armed attack on Malaysia or Singapore. “The challenges posed by the exercise scenario will be realistic enough to test the mettle of the participants.” TE KAHA, ENDEAVOUR, the Orion and the Seasprite are among 10 ships and 45 aircraft from all five nations taking part in the exercise. The FPDA, established in 1971, is the world’s second oldest military partnership. Members commit to strengthen defence cooperation and to consult each other immediately in the event or threat of an armed attack in Malaysia or Singapore.