US fighter jet buy-up Bay opportunity
Selling off the remainder of the Royal New Zealand Air Force fighter jets to the United States is opening doors for Tauranga’s aviation museum Classic Flyers.
Classic Flyers will soon receive its own Aermacchi jet trainer part of the Royal New Zealand Air Force fleet that was decommissioning in 2001.
Unlike the previous addition Skyhawk, the Aermacchi comes with an engine and will eventually be restored to flying capability.
Clssic Flyers CEO Andrew Gormlie says the problem will be finding and training pilots to fly it.
Individual jet pilots have to be rated for the aircraft type, and Andrew says he is hoping the civilian buyer of the Aermacchis and the remaining A4K Skyhawks will also be able to type rate Classic Flyers’ pilots.
“We’ve got quite a strong connection with them,” says Andrew.
“They want some of the (Aermacchi) pieces that are redundant to us.”
The Aermacchi’s head up displays have a “fairly sophisticated” guidance system that is totally military and won’t ever be used by Classic Flyers, says Andrew.
“So, yes there’s a bit of trading going on as a result of it, so it’s all good. We are hoping to raise a reasonable communication line between us.”
The remaining aircraft fleet of eight Skyhawks and nine Aermacchis, along with more than 20 spare parts have been purchased by Draken International.
Also included are two flight simulators for cockpit procedural training and navigation attack system familiarisation.
Draken International is part of the Contract Air Services industry, private suppliers of sparring partners for the United States military. The Aermacchis could be in action before the end of the year and the Skyhawks flying again by early 2013.
The A4Ks are the most capable Skyhawks ever produced and sport an advanced version of the F-16A’s APG-66 pulse-doppler phased array radar, hands-on-throttle-and-stick pilot interface, a full-fledged heads up display, a capable radar warning receiver, the NATO standard 1553 digital bus, which will allow for carriage of advanced stores, and mid-air refuelling pods.
These A-4Ks will be Draken International’s high-end threat simulation mainstay. The APG-66 radar will bring a capable radar set to the commercial adversary support industry for the first time.
“These aircraft represent the final and most capable evolution of the A-4 Skyhawk platform,” says Draken International CEO Jared Isaacman.
“We are all very confident in the long- term supportability, advanced avionics capabilities and economic efficiencies these aircraft will bring to the Department of Defence and the overall defence contracting industry."
It was announced in November that Darken International’s parent company JDI Holdings had signed a bargain deal worth $7.9million for the eight remaining aircraft that have not already been given to museums.
But the deal, including spare parts and engines, relied on approval from the US State Department. A previous deal with US aviation training provider Tactical Air Services fell through late in 2010 because of a delay in similar approval.
Draken International received state department approval to buy not only the Skyhawks but also the Aermacchi jet trainers a few months ago.
The Aermacchis were also decommissioned in 2001 but were regularly flown to keep them operational. Draken International is based out of the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida.www.sunlive.co.nz/news/29713-us-fighter-jet-buyup-bay-opportunity.html