The United States Air Force has confirmed its intention to have the world-renowned F-16 Fighting Falcon Jet Demonstration Team attend Wanaka from the Misawa Air Force base in Japan. Also displaying at the Airshow will be the C-17 Globemaster Demonstration Team out of Hawaii. Both the F-16s and the C-17 will operate out of Christchurch International Airport for the duration of the Airshow. Christchurch Airport is to host the Americans on the ground as according to the airshow organisers they’re unable to land at Wanaka. The RNZAF will help out with flying members of the US contingent through to the Airshow at various times over the weekend say the show’s organisers.
The timing of the visit which can expect aircraft to fly in ahead of the show coincides with the visit of former President Barack Obama and a month ahead of Hillary Clinton’s visit organized by the US Chamber of Commerce and US Business Council, the organization heavily involved in lobbying for the TPPA and believed to be in discussion regarding the reentry of the US into the treaty following the next American election (thought Trump hinted at the re-entry of USA into TPPA at Davos in Janaury this year). Therefore potentially the aircraft may also be participating in the anticipated visit by Obama to the South Island following the sighting of private jets, used in the advanced Secret Serivce of Bill Clinton during APEC 1999, in Dunedin earlier this month.
The American aircraft will not only ensure the biggest ever line up of modern military aircraft at the Wanaka airshow but the RNZAF intends to have one of the largest turnouts of its aircraft types at the Airshow. This is in addition to other Five Eyes (the defacto military arm of the TPPA) members attending the show including the Australians who are sending a Spartan transport aircraft along with Hawk Jets while the French are coming with the CASA transport jet.
Wanaka is currently also the site of a NASA facility funded by the US military, one of several facilities to pop up or expand using equipment built by known military contractors, these include the expanded Waihopai facility in Blenheim, Rocket lab in Gisborne, a private facility however funded by the US Navy, expanded tracking facilities in Bluff, among other known or suspected sites upgraded or added to in the past few years.
Further the visit by contemporary military aircraft at this year’s air show is not the only time we have seen an influx of Five Eyes military aircraft to New Zealand.
On August 3 2017,” New Zealand Defense Minister Mark Mitchell confirmed that Singapore’s fighter jets would be participating in an upcoming military exercise between the two countries. The news came as the two sides consider options for basing these aircraft in one of the country’s largest airfields for training as part of their broader effort to further their military cooperation in the coming years”. (Ohakea will also be basing a Singapore cyber intelligence unit and comes at the time Five Eyes is using Information Dominance warfare to suppress dissenting voices on social media).
Singapore is believed to have left equipment when their intelligence, cyber intelligence and artillery trained here during Operation Rolling Thunder while the USA left helicopters and other equipment here during Operation Koru in 2015. These exercises mark an escalated presence by Five Eyes security forces since 2011 including several visits by the US marines based in Hawaii. Our sources suggest this includes building barracks for the Marines (at this stage able to house 300 soldiers) in Waiouru for permanent “winter training”.
In January 2017, Singapore and New Zealand officials discussed stepping up cooperation through various ways. One of these opportunities had been for Singapore to set up a pilot training base at Ohakea Air Base, New Zealand’s third largest airfield, recently subject to a $2 billion dollar upgrade, as the land-scarce city state continues to look for other partners that can provide room for it to train its armed forces.
In February 2017 two Singapore F-15s were at the Ohakea Air Base for celebrations commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. And in June, when New Zealand’s air force chief Tony Davies paid a visit to Singapore, he viewed a static display of the F-15 fighter aircraft at Paya Lebar Air Base.
On August 3, Mitchell, the defense minister, announced that a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) training exercise hosted by the Royal New Zealand Air Force would take place at Ohakea Air Force base from 30 August to 25 September. Jacinda Adern and Winston Peters who have both confirmed their commitment to both the TPPA and the Five Eyes security alliance have yet to suggest this proposal or the 20 billion earmarked under national will be scrapped under their administration.
This month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her ministers were working to get an exemption for New Zealand from the US’ imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium. This supports the Postman’s claims last month that the current trade war and aluminum tariffs would be used by the USA to reinstate it self in the TPPA and have the currently suspended TPPA provision reinstated. The Tiwai smelter employs over 3000* people and is the backbone of Southland economy which generates over 20% pf the country’s gross domestic product.
Adern told reporters New Zealand had a strong case for an exemption because of its “long defense and security relationship with the United States stating New Zealand was clearly not an intended target of the tariffs, given its steel exports to the US were small. Ardern stated New Zealand’s relationship was similar to Australia’s in many ways and Australia had been given the exemption. Both New Zealand and Australia are ‘five eyes’ intelligence partners with the US.
*Tiwai’s website cites 800 employees