Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee today outlined a $20 billion spending programme on defence equipment out to 2030.
Among the major decisions to be made within the next four years are what to replace the two Anzac frigates, Te Mana and Te Kaha, with.
They will be upgraded over the next four years but will be replaced.
Brownlee told a Defence Industry Association conference in Auckland that the Government was committed to replacing the frigates "with modern combat vessels relevant to the prevailing strategic environment in the late 2020s and early 2030s."
"The decision is likely to be the most significant and challenging capability choice facing future Governments in the next 15 years, with initial consideration of options taking place before 2020."
The broad scope of the capability programme was outlined in the Defence White Paper in June.
Today's Defence Capability Review, the third since 2008, gives more detail on funding a timing of the long-term spending plans.
Brownlee said spending on cyber systems and security was the most significant shift in defence spending over the past five years.
"Capital investment into the capability, such as the procurement of software, will take place on an annual basis out to 2030, to keep pace with technology."
One of the more expensive projects is future air mobility capability of over $1 billion to buy new planes in the early to mid-2020s to replace the C130s and two Boeing 757s, one of which broke down in Townsville recently while transporting the Prime Minister on a trade delegation to India.
A business case will be taken to cabinet next year on air mobility.
But before 2020, the Boeings' satellite and avionics systems will be upgraded to meet modern air safety compliance standards.
Brownlee said that the two offshore patrol vessels will be increased to three and that the third one would be ice-strengthened and winterized - reflecting New Zealand's need to increase its presence in the Southern Ocean.
"As well as increasing New Zealand's capacity for sub-Antarctic operations, the new vessel will free up other vessel for operations in the South Pacific.
The plan includes $1.7 billion on defence real estate such as upgrades of the Devonport Navy base.
Brownlee said the planned annual increases in operations and capital spending would maintain Defence spending at an average of 1 per cent of GDP out to 2030.
This year's budget committed the Government to $300 million extra in operational spending over the next four years.