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F16s ? No thanks !
F16 warplanes ? No thanks !
Are they a bargain price ?
Helen Clark said no. 'The [National] government’s line on this purchase has always been that these planes are a bargain. Well, I understand a fairly simple home truth about bargains; nothing is a bargain if we do not need it!'(Helen Clark, parliamentary debate, 27 July 1999)
How much will they cost to run ?
We still don’t know. Helen Clark said ‘a lot’. 'I suspect that the country has seen only the start of the kind of escalation of expenditure that would occur if the F16s purchase and lease were to proceed. Already there has been a cost blow-out.' (Helen Clark, parliamentary debate, 27 July 1999)
Even if the US government were to waive the purchase price and give the airforce the F16 warplanes, there is still the cost of servicing, maintaining, re-tooling, re-training pilots and their day to day running costs (of pilots and planes !) - the fuel alone costs more than $2500 per plane per hour.
... 'Air combat forces are expensive to retain and operate (14 per cent of the NZDF budget), and possibly beyond NZ’s economic capacity to keep up to date without detracting from other more necessary military capabilities.' (Interim Report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee ‘Inquiry into defence beyond 2000’). How about their detracting from other more necessary SOCIAL expenditures ?
Do we need them ?
Helen Clark said no. 'We are constantly told by the Minister of Defence in his interviews that they are to give ground support to our troops. Our advice is that an F16 is really not that sort of plane ... F16s are not the sort of aircraft one would go out to buy if one’s purpose was to provide ground support for land troops.' (Helen Clark, parliamentary debate, 27 July 1999)
Why then would we get them ?
'The National government has spent 9 years trying to breathe life back into a dormant ANZUS alliance, inoperative for 15 years. I do not believe the decision to purchase these planes was driven by the USA at all; it was driven by a National government that wants to revive an alliance forged in other times for other reasons, and those times and reasons have long passed.' (Helen Clark, parliamentary debate, 27 July 1999)
F16 warplanes - we don’t need them and we don’t want them.
Remind Helen Clark of what she said last year, tell the new government what you think about the F16s deal NOW before it’s too late.
Contact list for MPs, Ministers and media is available from PMA.
NOTE - excerpt from PMA’s January 2000 newsletter
As widely reported in the mass media, Derek Quigley is currently reviewing the lease-to-buy F16s deal signed with the US government last year. While it was originally thought his recommendation would be cancellation of the deal, there is now suspicion that his position may be changing, or that it will be sufficiently open to interpretation to delay the decision on cancellation further.
Certainly the F16s deal is not in line with the Labour Party’s general defence priorities: 'Labour considers peacekeeping to be a very important international role of the NZ Defence Force. The principal service in this activity is the army, with the navy and air force also having important roles to play. The navy should provide transportation, initial base operations support, logistic support, and off-shore fire support. The air force, where required and practicable, should supply the means of rapid transportation and support for smaller army units.' Their commitment to armed peacekeepers will likely result in the stepping up of the planned $500 million re-equipping of the army.
As there will not be an opportunity for public submissions to Derek Quigley’s review, you should send your views on the F16s deal and/or the re-equipping of the army to him c/o Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, fax (04) 472 3181. His report is due to go to Cabinet ‘no later than 6 March’."