14 Aug 2008

Two companies keen on Skyhawks - Goff

8:37 am on 14 August 2008

Defence Minister Phil Goff says two US companies have agreed in principle to buy mothballed Skyhawk jet planes from New Zealand.

He told Morning Report he has two signed heads of agreement from companies keen to buy the planes, and both companies are willing to pay $US110 million.

He says a sale will go through when one or other company obtains a contract for training from the US Department of Defense.

However, ACT Party defence spokesperson Heather Roy told the programme this is not good news as there is still no sale of the planes and no approval for the sale from the US government.

The 17 RNZAF planes were decommissioned in 2001, and are stored outside at Woodbourne Air Base, Blenheim. They are covered in latex.

Mr Goff rejects a claim by the ACT Party that water is seeping through protective coating on the planes, devaluing them.

Mr Goff says the latex covering on three of the jets was torn during a recent storm, but there was no damage.

He acknowledges that water occasionally gets under the white outer coating of latex, but he points out the planes are not steel and so don't rust.