Labour bollocks-ed up Defence like no other government in history. They destroyed capacity and wasted vast sums of money on bleeding edge and inappropriate technology.
Now it has been revealed that Phil Goff’s last big purchase the NH-90 helicopters are duds just like the LAVIIIs. Once again some consultant got a big fat brown envelope and the REMFs have delivered a crap, over-prices white elephant to the frontline troops.
Eight new airforce helicopters, worth more than $700 million, have a serious flaw that even when fixed will prevent use in snowy conditions.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force is the first military force to use the high technology NH-90s, winning criticism from Auditor-General Lyn Provost who says this country should not be buying “first of type” equipment.
Her comments came in a Defence Force report published on its website this week dealing with the military’s major projects.
The report also reveals that the P3 Orion $373-million upgrade project has hit problems again with the air force purchasing an “as is” used flight deck simulator that is not compatible with the new planes.
The NH-90s were ordered in 2006 by then Defence Minister Phil Goff to replace the air force’s Vietnam War era Iroquois helicopters.
Provost says in her report that no other airforce was using them when they were commissioned although she said 16 countries now have orders in for 500 NH-90s.
“The NH-90 was to be capable of being quickly deployed in a C130 Hercules aircraft,” she said.
But it cannot currently and Defence is “looking at other transport options”.
These include the helicopters flying themselves all the way across the Pacific if they can be refuelled, or going aboard the navy multi role ship HMNZS Canterbury – but only in certain safe sea state conditions.
The only aircraft available that can fly them anywhere are the ex-Soviet Union Antonov-124 transporter.
Other risks are present, including the NH 90 being “prone to damage” from debris drawn into the engines.
“To mitigate this risk, NHIndustries is to supply screens that can be fitted to the engines.”
Provost says once the screens are fitted, the helicopters will not be able to operate in snowy conditions.