Ōhakea Air Force base hangar gets its roof placed in six-hour operation

A 500-tonne roof has been lifted into place at the Ōhakea Air Force base.

The addition is just half of the roof of the new building Te Whare Toroa, which will house four new maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.

Over a six-hour period last Thursday, the roof was gradually lifted into place, 33 metres above the ground.

The roof went on Hangar 1, with a second roof drop expected for Hangar 2 in early August.

Ministry of Defence air domain director Sarah Minson said this was a visual sign of progress being made on the $250 million infrastructure build.

The three-year project would also include maintenance and support facilities, warehousing for spare parts and a mission support centre.

“We are on track with the build and will be ready for the arrival of the first aircraft later this year,” Minson said.

Wing Commander Mark Whiteside said having the roof raised on the hangar is an exciting milestone for all involved in the P8 team.

“It will also be the first real chance for the wider Air Force and Ōhakea community to visually see the size and scale of the investment being made into the base,” he said.

The main contractors, Hawkins and Fulton Hogan, and their 25 subcontractors, have an average of 250 workers on site each day and they were on track for completion by the end of 2023.

The P-8A Poseidons will be able to undertake search-and-rescue operations throughout the Pacific and south to Antarctica, protection of the southern ocean, and humanitarian and disaster relief in the Pacific and Aotearoa.

That is in addition to the protection of fishing resources in New Zealand’s large, exclusive zone (EEZ) and in remote areas such as the southern ocean and around Pacific island nations.

The project is a significant investment to strengthen Aotearoa’s maritime surveillance capability.