Aircraft Replacement: The Facts

  • Max Bradford

The Government has no intention of replacing the Royal New Zealand Air Force's Boeing 727s with VIP jets for Ministerial travel, Defence Minister Max Bradford said today. Speculation in this morning's Dominion is absolutely incorrect.

Mr Bradford said the facts are:

Regardless of what decisions the Air Force makes, the Prime Minister and other Ministers will continue to use commercial flights where possible, and will use Air Force planes only when necessary. This only happens rarely.

Last year's Defence Assessment outlines timeframes and options for the replacement of a wide range of ageing Defence Equipment, including the Air Force Boeing 727 ?s which are expected to need replacing around 2002/2003, as they will exceed international noise limitations being introduced worldwide.

The Ministry of Defence is considering replacing the 727s engines, fitting hush-kits or replacing the aircraft under a cost-effective lease arrangement.

Mr Bradford said the Dominion's claim that the Ministry of Defence is consulting with the ANZ and BNZ banks on leasing replacements for the 727s is wrong - the replacement studies are simply not that far advanced.

He said the Dominion article is also incorrect in claims about the delay in the Armoured Vehicle Project. "The New Zealand Army has sensibly decided to combine its three vehicle replacement projects and consult closely with Australia?s Defence Force to avoid shortfalls in capability and minimise cost. The delay has nothing whatsoever to do with a separate study into an offer from the US to review F16 aircraft as a possible replacement for our ageing Skyhawks," he said.