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Turning Skyhawks into scrap

Simon Power
National Defence Spokesman 27 July 2004

Turning Skyhawks into scrap

The chances of the Air Force's 17 Skyhawk fighter aircraft and 17 Aermacchi jet trainers being busted up and sold for scrap seem to be getting greater by the day, says National's Defence spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on Cabinet documents released to him last week which show that selling the aircraft for scrap has been an option since November 2002.

"This is totally beyond the pale. The option of selling these aircraft for scrap has been on the books all along and the public has not been told," says Mr Power.

"It is pretty clear to me, having monitored the situation for some time, that the whole process is a shambles."

Cabinet papers from November 2002 say a sale before Christmas that year is expected, but that if it does not happen there is an option to sell them for scrap. Papers from December 2003 again say a sale is expected, and repeat the option of scrapping the aircraft.

"Eighteen months later and there is still no sale, and the chances of that happening are slimmer, so the question must be asked: how soon will this Government admit it has no plan and that they are about to scrap the aircraft?

"Every time we question them on this issue they say a sale is imminent. But what is clear from these documents is that it is not."

Mr Power says the men and women who have served in the Air Force would be "utterly disgusted" to find that one of the options the Government has been considering since 2002 is selling the aircraft for scrap.

"This is extremely embarrassing for the Government," says Mr Power.

The aircraft have been on the market for three years. The cost of letting them gather dust is more than $8 million, and is rising at the rate of $320,000 a month.

Ends

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