New Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has announced that nine of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF’s) 17 mothballed A-4K Skyhawks will be earmarked for museums (including one for Australia), after a long running attempt to sell the aircraft failed.
“The government has made every effort to sell the Skyhawk fleet but no acceptable offers have been received. We will therefore offer eight of them to qualifying public museums in New Zealand and one to Australia, for heritage and display purposes,” Mapp said in a statement.
“Homes for four of the aircraft are already determined. Two aircraft (one single-seat and one two-seat) will go to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand at Wigram. Another will go to the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland. A fourth will go to the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Arm Museum at Nowra, Australia. This fulfils a longstanding agreement that we would give one of the ex Australian Skyhawks back to them.”
Mapp said that the remaining five aircraft would be “allocated on long term loan to other qualifying aviation museums in New Zealand,” with negotiations already underway. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government is continuing negotiations with Blenheim based Safe Air to sell it Skyhawk tooling and equipment, allowing the company to continue refurbishing Skyhawk J52 engines for international customers.
“The remaining airframes, engines, spares, ground support equipment, role specific equipment, and documentation and publications will be sold separately through a request for proposals process. It is quite likely that the remaining aircraft will be reduced to spares,” the Minister said. “There has already been interest in this prospect, which is more in line with the realities of today’s marketplace.”
Retired in December 2001, the RNZAF’s Skyhawk fleet was placed in storage at RNZAF Woodbourne. A 2005 NZ$150 million deal to sell the aircraft together with 17 MB-339 Macchi jet trainers to US based Tactical Air Services failed to materialise.
“For years there were unrealistic expectations about the value of these aircraft. As a result, they have languished at Woodbourne for a decade. Today’s announcement marks an end to uncertainty and is welcome news for aviation enthusiasts throughout New Zealand,” Mapp said.