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No damage to Skyhawks, sales process sped up

13 August 2008


No damage to Skyhawks, sales process to be fast-tracked

The outer protective coating on three of the 17 Royal New Zealand Air Force Skyhawks kept at Woodburn Air Base was torn during the recent storm, but there was no damage to the aircraft, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

The aircraft are sealed in two layers of latex protective covering to withstand weather damage during storage while a buyer is found.

"I am advised by the Air Force that the storm ripped a small part of the outer coating on the tail fins of three of the aircraft, but the important inner layer was not breached on two of them, and so no moisture seeped into the aircraft," Phil Goff said.

"On the third aircraft, the inner layer was also torn but on inspection there was no damage to the fin.

"This system of protection is standard around the world because it is a cost effective way of maintaining the aircraft's physical condition. The aircraft will be covered by these protective layers until a sale has been agreed.

"I am pleased that we have recently taken a significant step towards facilitating a sale of the aircraft.

"Following meetings I held with United States officials two months ago in the Pentagon and last week in Wellington, the US Defense and State Departments have agreed to fast track the approval process once a contract has been signed.

"Two companies have put forward bids for the 17 Skyhawks and 17 Aermacchi trainer aircraft, with both bids valuing the aircraft at US$110 million. If one or other of the companies is successful in securing a contract for training from the Defense Department, a contract could be signed with the successful bidder within the next few months.

"This commitment by the US Government to facilitate the approval process once the sale is agreed is a very encouraging development. However I won't be satisfied until I deposit the cheque into the New Zealand exchequer," Phil Goff said.

ENDS



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