NZ spent $113m helping build and use US military satellites

New Zealand has spent $113 million so far to help build and use a web of United States military satellites, government papers show.

New Zealand has relied for 12 years on the Wideband Global Satellite Communications web, built by Boeing and run by the Pentagon for several allied countries.

The US has recently been asking partners to stump up more cash, and New Zealand said it would put $15m towards sending up two much more powerful satellites to take the web up to one dozen.

It also pays an annual operating fee of just over $1m.

A briefing from April released under the Official Information Act showed the total costs since 2012 were $113m.

Of that, $83m was the fee that New Zealand paid in 2012 for access to the web of 10 satellites.

The briefing also said that the Defence Force was looking to boost its very limited space capabilities, and was interested in more ground-based space infrastructure at a time of "rapid" growth of the country's commercial space operators.

"This could include vertical or horizontal launch infrastructure, and other ground-based infrastructure that supports the testing and trialling of uncrewed aerial vehicles, rockets and supporting technologies," a briefing to the government late last year said.

The Defence Force told RNZ that its updated Defence Capability Plan would lay out any indicative investments relating to space through to 2040.

The new plan is due to go to the defence minister next month.