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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 8 May 2001

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: Kane
For : The Editor (for publication)

A few years ago I was a Sergeant in my local RNZAF Air
Training Cadet Core ( ATC ), everyone I knew wanted to be a
fighter pilot, it was a lifetime goal for the whole
Squadron. Now, without any New Zealand strike force that
goal is to be lost.

So what happens to Cadet numbers around the country ? less
and less kids will join up, increasing the number of ill
disciplined kids on the street, after all, in any Cadet
Core, personal discipline is always enforced.

From: Andrew Johnson
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Air defence

Unfortunately, you've overlooked the main issue.  Do we
NEED to run a strike jet squadron?

Defence of the region?  What are you talking about?  The
jets we currently have are useless for strike capability.
Assuming the region includes PNG, Indonesia, and as far
north as even Singapore, we are completely pointless.  All
of the countries in the area hold a strike capability that
could be used as cover or defence in support of ground
troops.  We have to keep in mind (as many of the so called
defence analysts - a vested interest if ever I've seen one -
 keep saying) that NZ would never have the ability to go
and wage war on someone.  We have no reason or interest in
doing so.  We would only ever project power overseas as
part of a multinational task force.  As much as this may
piss the Aussies off, they must accept the lion's share of
responsiblity for air support - it is unreasonable to
expect NZ to spend so disproportionally to keep her allies

New fighter aircraft, either budget ones from the ol' USSR
or new strike fighters (hell, even good helicopter
gunships) will suck up money that NZ simply doesn't have to
deal with non-existant contingencies.

Aardvark Replies:
Don't be too hard on the old Skyhawks -- remember
how much damage was inflicted against British Naval
vessels off the Falklands by lowly old Skyhawks with
Exocet missiles.

You'll also note that many pilots still hold these
aged relics in high regard and they're often used
in a training role against F15's and F16's.

Remember -- NZ is well beyond the easy target range
of any traditional jet fighters so any threat we
may face will likely be sea-based.

However I agree that it's time the Skyhawks were
junked.  The question is -- how do we replace their

Let's be honest, if China decided that NZ would
make a nice strategic foot-hold in the South Pacific
they'd only have to fill Auckland and Wellington
harbours with four or five submarines and we'd all
have to start waving white flags.

And this notion that we have no enemies in the
region is a little too trite.  I don't believe
that the USA considered Japan to be an enemy
(or even a neighbour) until the attack on
Pearl Harbour.

Then there's the issue of our commitment to
our allies.  There were more than a handful
of Kiwi pilots who flew in WW2 and the Battle
of Britain.   If we have no fighter-jets,
how are we going to train pilots to do the
same if our allies call on our support?

We must remember that BECAUSE we can't defend
ourselves we have an even greater responsibility
to show our allies (the countries we will
expect to come to our aid) that we're doing
our bit to help them.  This means that we
must be able to supply the real fighting men
of the 21st century -- pilots!

From: Bede
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: jet fighters

yes i regually have this discusion that we should be
purchasing sukhoi jet fighters,

In alot of circumstances these planes are designed to
destroy there american equivalent.

I also think we could even "barter" with russia where by
we give them x dollars worth of meat and dairy products.

and we also get them to station technicians here to help
maintain them.

of course all of this might piss america off to no end,
but there you go..

Comrade Bede

From: Grant
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Scrap the combat air-wing

"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"

Apparently not - there are plenty of solders serving in
peacekeeping duties who owe their lives to vehicle armour -
afterall most UN troops killed have died via rifle file,
machetes, land-mines etc rather than any smart or long-
range weapons.
Remember NZ forces have been deployed overseas dozens of
times over the last 30 years - almost every time APC and
helicopters were part of the mix while fixed wing combat
aircraft have never been risked.
That in a nutshell is why we should be spending money on
what we use rather than what looks good on telly.  It also
indicates that our 32+ year old helicopters and Hercules
(which are used day-in, day out) should be updated ASAP
rather than the combat aircraft.

Suggestions?  Leasing aircraft from Australia or paying for
pilots to train with the Aussies (ie reverse the current
arrangement where we station aircraft in Australia) is a
good & obviously solution.  Would also help air-force
morale if the trainers where kept & elite NZ pilots get to
fly (Australian) F18’s or Hawks.

Buying Russian aircraft on the other hand is a very bad
idea – they aren’t compatible with our partners, are just
as expensive (or more expensive) to run as the Skyhawks and
even aircraft such as MiG 27’s can be sitting ducks (three
Serbian MiG 27’s were shot-down by NATO – MiG 21’s didn’t
even get off the ground).  Basically, Russian cars are
cheap as well, but I bet you don't drive one.  BTW – one
country capable of invading NZ, that has actually invaded
other countries on a frequent basis over the last 30 or so
years is the US – lets stay on side with them .

As for spending money to the arts – well, we have to have a
culture or society we want to defend otherwise why not sell
NZ to any ‘invading’ force?

On your further comments – when/if the Chinese invade
Taiwan then you might see a rapid purchase of air-wing ;-),
but in the meantime if subs turn up in our harbour then
wave back –  they can’t sink NZ.  On the other hand, a
truck launched Exocet or Harpoon can still sink any
incoming ship while it’s damn hard to sink or shoot down a
truck from a ship 

Also, the real fighting men and women (!) of the 21st
century will continue to be techo’s backed up by the grunts
with bad haircuts and rifles.

From: Andy Gardner
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Armoured Troop Carriers

Those new Armoured Troop Carriers AREN'T for repelling
foreign assailants, you dummies!!!

From: Jason Fame
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: NZ Defence

New Zealand's fighters were never intended to defend NZ
from invasion. We don't have to worry about that, what we
have to worry about is keeping our freedoms. Which in
practical terms means protecting our commerce and friendly
governments. We maintained fighters because they required
trained pilots. In the event of a major conflict we would
be able to supply the most important component (the pilot)
to the better equiped forces of our allies. The Labour
government has decided that NZ is better served by better
equiping our Army and Navy for the work NZ does itself. The
real issue with NZ's defence is our budget which is less
than half what it needs to be to give us many options. It
is nonsense to suggest we can maintain any sort of air
combat capability with the budget our military has. Both
National and Labour admit this, but National having the
luxury of not being in office feels free to criticise
Labour who has the real problem of finding funds. Our
troops do go into the field and do stand into danger. They
have an embarrassing lack of equipment with which to
function and that must be corrected. We cannot afford the
resources to equip them and maintain fighter aircraft we
never use.

Now Have Your Say

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