WELLINGTON, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand military is to play a leading role in a three-week war-fighting exercise in Southeast Asia, the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) said Thursday.
New Zealand had dispatched two navy ships, a P-3K2 Orion surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and about 270 personnel to Exercise Bersama Shield 17, which opened in Malaysia and Singapore Thursday.
The annual naval and air exercise is conducted under the Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA), which is made up of New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Malaysia and Singapore.
New Zealand navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha would be the flagship of the maritime task group, its commanding officer serving as the task group commander.
Wing Commander Ben Till, leader of the NZDF contingent, said in the first phase of the exercise the various forces would integrate, followed by five days of extensive training.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF had taken part in the Bersama exercises for many years.
The exercise would involve a total of 10 ships and 45 aircraft from all five nations.
The FPDA, established in 1971, is the world's second-oldest military partnership.