F16 Aircraft Deal

  • Bill English

Defence Minister Max Bradford says the Opposition parties' allegations about the purchase of F16 aircraft have the ring of "desperate stuff".

"They know its a good deal," Mr Bradford said. "And they know this is confirmed in a study chaired by Sir Wilson Whineray (executive summary and recommendations released yesterday).

"The F16s will be able to do considerable more than our current A4 Skyhawks. They will provide support for the New Zealand Army - a very important part of keeping our soldiers alive, should they be deployed to active service.

"If the Opposition parties want to strip this support from our Army then they are proposing that somebody else should look after the cover of our troops - or worse still, put them into World War I conditions without any protection.

"The Opposition may like to look at the world through rose coloured spectacles, but the sad reality is that the world is not the safe and peaceful place we would all like it to be.

"Even the history of the past decade tells us we may be faced with committing our troops to dangerous situations at sometime in the future. The decisions we make today on defence equipment are decisions for the next 30 years."