21 Sep 2010

Skyhawk sale likely to collapse

9:56 pm on 21 September 2010

A deal to sell the air force's mothballed Skyhawk combat aircraft could to about to fall through unless the United States extends a deadline for their sale.

State Department approval for the sale runs out on Wednesday and as yet there is no sign the potential purchaser is ready to buy the aircraft.

Defence Minster Wayne Mapp says he is to be briefed on the matter on Tuesday afternoon, but he does not appear hopeful.

Dr Mapp says the Skyhawks are now 45 years old and it is no surprise they are likely to be scrapped.

He is not optimistic the country's mothballed Skyhawk combat aircraft will be sold.

The 17 aircraft were taken out of service in 2001 by the Labour government. Attempts to sell them have failed.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says part of the problem is any sale needs the approval of the State Department because they are US military aircraft.

In 2001, the Ministry of Defence estimated scrapping the combat wing of the air force would save $870 million over 10 years, as well as avoiding the approximately $1 billion it would have cost to buy replacement aircraft.