Green Party defence spokesperson, new MP Keith Locke, this afternoon visited Defence Minister Mark Burton offering to support Labour’s efforts to cancel the F-16 contract.
“I conveyed to Mr Burton the Green Party’s view that the F-16s are a complete waste of money,” said Mr Locke.
“We want New Zealand’s defence spending to be focused on peacekeeping, fisheries monitoring and disaster relief.
“East Timor has shown us we need Iroquois and Hercules, not fixed-wing strike planes.
“We would go further than Labour and rapidly phase out the existing Skyhawk strike aircraft. There is big money to be saved by moving away from an air strike capability.
“The current amount budgeted for Air Combat Forces is $201 million. On top of that we could get a bonus by selling off the existing Skyhawks. In this morning’s Dominion former Defence Minister Max Bradford estimates that they would sell for between $50 million and $150 million.
“Some of the proceeds could be used to upgrade our peacekeeping capability. There would also be money to spend in non-military areas, such as social services and environmental protection.
“We strongly support all government efforts to cancel the F-16 purchase. It’s pointless to take into service planes we simply don’t need,” said Mr Locke.