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Surplus aircraft sold

Surplus aircraft sold

The Minister of Defence, Hon Mark Burton today announced that the RNZAF Skyhawk and Aermacchi fleets have been sold to a private American company, Tactical Air Services, Inc. for around $155 million (US$110 million ) following the signing of a Heads of Agreement between the company and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

"This is an excellent outcome. The money received from the sale after aircraft regeneration, shipping and other costs associated with the sale will be available to continue the programme of developing a modern, relevant defence force," Mark Burton said.

"There has been much speculation on the eventual fate of the air combat fleet including misinformed comment about the Skyhawks being scrapped. All parties will therefore be pleased to see this successful outcome."

The recent successful introduction of the giant European aerospace company Alenia Aeronautica, SpA, a Finmeccanica company, as the company's "corner stone" shareholder has meant Tactical Air Services is now able to complete the acquisition of the New Zealand air combat force aircraft. Finmeccanica is also the parent of Aermacchi SpA, the manufacturer of the RNZAF Aermacchi aircraft.

The sale is conditional upon the formal agreement of the US State Department permitting the importation of the aircraft into the United States as well as the required End User Certificates from New Zealand and Italy. These matters have already been extensively discussed with the respective foreign government departments and no problems were anticipated in finalising the arrangements.

Regeneration work on returning the Skyhawks to operational status will be undertaken by Safe Air Limited in Blenheim. The Aermacchi fleet is already fully operational. Both fleets will be progressively shipped to the US over the next few months.

"Given the considerable interest in advancing this matter from other political parties I am sure that they will welcome this announcement.

"I am particularly pleased that the regeneration work required to bring the Skyhawks back to operational status is going to a New Zealand company, Blenheim's Safe Air. This recognises the high level of New Zealand expertise in aircraft engineering."


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