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On A Slow News Day 8 May 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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First up I have to say that today is a very slow tech-news day.

Days like this are real hard work when you're someone like myself who has to work hard to come up with a fresh new idea for what must be about my 700th column.

Of course when you're really at a loss to come up with something to write about, a columnist can do what I'm doing now -- lament the lack of interesting news.

7amNews Sci/Tech

Fortunately, being a one-man-band, I have a bit of latitude (and I'm not going to get beaten over the head by some editor who doesn't understand how hard it is to do this day-in, day-out).

So let's talk about New Zealand's decision to ditch its air-combat capabilities.

Well, given the amount of technology that goes into a modern jet fighter and its support systems, this really is a "new economy" issue isn't it?

While I am aware that a country with a coastline the length of New Zealand and just 3.5 million inhabitants simply can't afford the size of air-combat force it would need to effectively defend itself against a potential aggressor, that doesn't mean we should leave ourselves totally defenseless does it?

Readers Say
(updated hourly)

  • RNZAF... - Kane
  • Air defence... - Andrew
  • jet fighters... - Bede
  • Scrap the combat air-wing... - Grant
  • Armoured Troop Carriers... - Andy
  • NZ Defence... - Jason
  • Have Your Say

    "But wait" I hear you say, "we're getting over 100 new state-of-the-ART (note the emphasis) armoured troop carriers for the army aren't we? Won't that help?"

    To answer that question -- let me jog your memories a little. I think there can be few Aardvark readers (except perhaps the youngest) who don't remember that shocking footage from the Gulf War which showed just how vulnerable even the most well-equipped ground forces are without strategic air cover.

    In fact I would go so far as to say that APCs are simply a convenient (for the enemy) way of packaging troops for incineration by enemy bombers and helicopter gunships.

    So -- I tout myself as an "ideas guy" -- what's my suggestion?

    Well I offer two options:

    1. Let's pay Australia a regular stipend in return for them stationing a small squadron of their fighter jets here on NZ soil. This way we would most certainly be seen to be contributing in the most concrete manner (cash) to the security of the region.

    2. Alternatively, it's not stupid to go out and buy an armful of ex-soviet MiGs for what is (by comparison with their western equivalents) little more than pocket change. In fact I've included a link to an NZ Herald story below which shows that some of the former Soviet Union's most potent air fighters can be picked up for just $250,000 each.

    So why did I emphasize the word ART further back in this article?

    Well cast your mind back to when the current Labor coalition was elected. What was one of the very first things our beloved Prime Minister did?

    Yes, she gave unbudgeted taxpayer funds (the equivalent of 320 cast-off MiG 21 fighters) to the arts community.

    I wonder, would the arts community will roll up and throw paint-brushes, scripts and sheet-music at an attacking mass of invaders should they land on our shores?

    The phrase "Let them eat cake" springs to mind.

    As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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