Skyhawks sale looks doomed
Tue, 21 Sep 2010 6:33p.m.
By Dan Parker
The air force's former pride and joy, its Skyhawks, now look destined to be donated to museums or just chopped up for scrap.
The deal to sell them to an American company for $155 million appears to have fallen over.
They've been grounded since 2001 and it's unlikely they will ever fly again, and in fact, there are questions about whether that offer was ever realistic.
The American buyer has just a few more hours to come up with $155 million to buy them and the Government has lost hope a deal will be done.
"He's had 12 months already," says Defence Minister Wayne Mapp. "At some point you've just got to say you've had your time."
They were to be sold to Tactical Air Services by the Labour Government in 2005 but the sale stalled because of State Department approval that took four years.
"I think everybody accepts, and actually the current government accepts, the purchaser was a creditable purchaser," says Labour leader Phil Goff.
But military studies lecturer Lance Beath says MrGoff is wrong.
Mr Beath says the buyer was never credible and the deal was doomed from the beginning.
"I never found anybody else to take a phone call," he says. "I think it was one American entrepreneur hoping to put together a fleet of aircrafts that could be used in exercise training - a pipe dream from the start."
But Dr Mapp says due diligence was carried out.
Since then Prime Minister Helen Clark grounded the 17 Skyhawks and 17 Aermacchi trainers in 2001, taxpayers have forked out $34 million in storage and maintenance costs.
Dr Mapp says the options he is now faced with are bleak.
The Aermacchis have more of a future. Dr Mapp says they are newer than the Skyhawks and are a more attractive option on their own.
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22/09/2010 7:26:21 p.m.
Cory Smitheram wrote:
I would like to suggest cutting a couple of the cockpits off and turning them into partial motion flight simulators. These could be put into musems such as Te Papa and made available to the public. I could provide the automation required for the conversion in association with a specialist company such as Pacific Simulators. This could be done for a fraction of the money spent on storage already and the tax payer would get some enjoyment from the money spent.
21/09/2010 8:50:07 p.m.
I wonder whats going to happen to the Aermacchi's their not that old and still have a lot of flying time on the clock it would be a shame if they went this way as well.
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