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Merry Christmas, Mr Goff

Merry Christmas, Mr Goff

In the spirit of festive goodwill, ACT New Zealand National Security Spokesman Heather Roy today offered Defence Minister Phil Goff an early Christmas present - a sensible plan for what to do with the Skyhawks.

"If anything needs of a good home this Christmas, it is our Skyhawks," Mrs Roy said.

"This plan would keep all but one of the Skyhawks in New Zealand, and see up to eight able to be re-generated in time of need:

* Six Skyhawks - three single-seat A4s and three dual-seat TA4s - to go to the RNZAF Tactical Training School: they would be kept inside and in constant maintenance - and therefore capable of re-generation.

* One A4: to be given to the RNZAF Museum.

* One TA4: for the RNZAF, maybe via the Red Checkers display team, to form a memorial flight - in the same way the RAF keeps a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane in flying order for flypasts etc.

* One A4: the one already kept in flying order to demonstrate to potential buyers - perhaps paid for by Arts, Culture & Heritage and stored at MOTAT.

* One A4 of the original Australian jets: to be re-painted in Australian colours and given to the RAAF Museum as a gift from the people of New Zealand.

"There are a couple of options for the remaining seven aircraft.

* War Reserve: essentially strip them and put into long term preservation - this would be a one-off cost and much less than the current arrangement.

* Other Museums and Collections: New Zealand has at least four military aircraft collections in Wanaka, Blenheim, Masterton and Ardmore - one display frame could go to each.

* Sell them as parts on the world market, less the avionics and other US sensitive items.

"Our 17 Skyhaws include four TA4s that should be kept in flying condition. Project Kahu avionics would be removed from civilian-gifted frames, and ownership could remain with our Government - allaying US State Department concerns that they will be on-sold.

"In the spirit of Christmas goodwill - and because the Skyhawks should be looked after properly - I'm even happy for Defence Minister Phil Goff to use my plan and call it his own," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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