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Plans Afoot To Re-Commission Aermacchis

Plans Afoot To Re-Commission Aermacchis

ACT New Zealand National Security Spokesman Heather Roy today released new information showing that plans are already well underway to have the de-commissioned Aermacchi jets returned to the air in a training capacity.

"These documents - released under the Official Information Act - are also proof that the long-awaited sale of the Skyhawks and Aermacchis is clearly doomed," Mrs Roy said.

"De-commissioning the Skyhawks and Aermacchis was a blatant Government failure, as was leaving them 'parked up' for six years. Meanwhile, the Air Force has lost years of valuable training time and experience - Air Force pilots trained in New Zealand since 2002 have no experience with flying jets, setting them apart from military pilots all over the world.

"ACT has campaigned for the Aermacchis to be returned to the Flying Training Squadron for some time. We believe the Aermacchis would enhance the Air Force's capabilities:

* They could be used to contribute to security alliances and the MFAT Mutual Assistance programme

* Training opportunities could be extended to those from other countries who would pay to come and train, contributing to the cost

* They could be used to begin a re-generation of our military jet capability - while this would take six-eight years it would provide an incentive for pilots, instructors and mechanics to remain with the RNZAF and would also attract Kiwis to return to New Zealand

* Provide an opportunity to grow the Territorial Force component of the RNZAF

* Provide an opposing force for New Zealand and international exercises - just as 2 Squadron RNZAF did for the Australian Navy when based in Nowra, New South Wales, and was paid to do so.

"The Aermacchis have huge potential for the New Zealand Defence Force, but this Labour-led Government has done much damage by sitting on its hands for six years - including leaving the Air Force at least $12 million out of pocket by forcing it to use its operational budget to house and maintain the de-commissioned jets.

"As such, it is extremely heartening that the Government has begun to finally see the light and is heeding ACT's call for the Aermacchis to be put into use once more. The damage has been done but, by following ACT's proposals, the Government may be able to start putting things right once more," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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