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Mothballed Aermacchis A Government Embarrassment

Mothballed Aermacchis A Government Embarrassment

Heather Roy
Tuesday, 19 September 2006
Press Releases - Defence


Parliamentary Questions released today by Heather Roy, ACT's National Security Spokesman, show that the Air Force was forced to spend $1.7 million from last year's operational budget on the retired Aermacchi fleet, but that the aircraft are not being properly maintained.

"Labour's delay in selling the Aermacchi fleet cost the RNZAF $1.7 million last year. Since the air combat wing was disestablished, the cost to the Air Force can conservatively be estimated at $8.5 million, but in reality, is probably closer to $12 million", Mrs Roy said.

"That money should have been spent on training, equipment and operational costs - not hoping for a sale which has new become an embarrassment for the Government.

"Government should reimburse the Air Force, so that our service men and women don't have to miss out.

"To ensure they remain fully functional, the Aermacchis are supposed to be flown every 14 days, but that is not happening. In the three months to August 15, none of the Aermacchis were flown that frequently, and four never left the ground at all.

"Instead, the planes just have their engines turned over, and deteriorate by the day. If this sale ever proceeds, there is little - if any - likelihood that it will result in a profit.

"New Zealand's air combat wing was disestablished in 2001. A sale was reported to be 'very close' in early 2004, but tentative arrangements with Tactical Air Systems were not announced until September 2005.

"Labour has blamed the delay on the US State Department's approval process, but in reality, the sale hasn't even reached the State Department's desks.

"The Royal New Zealand Air Force shouldn't be left carrying this cost just because the Minister of Defence can't close a deal", Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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