Another dud Defence purchase by Labour comes home to roost

Phil Goff signing away nearly $800 million on rubbish helicopters

We can sheet this purchase home to Phil Goff.

The NH-90 helicopters have yet another problem with them.

A visit by two government ministers to Kaikōura has been called off, because the Air Force’s NH90 helicopters have been banned from flying over water, mountains and towns.

The flying restrictions were put in place following an emergency landing by one of the helicopters near Blenheim on Sunday.

So…the whole of New Zealand then is off limits.

The Air Force is still investigating what caused problems to the engine, but said, in the interest of safety, it would limit the helicopters’ use.

It would stop flights to areas where emergency landings were not possible, such as cities, mountains or water.

A visit to Kaikōura, which was badly hit by last November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, by Cabinet ministers Gerry Brownlee and Jonathan Coleman has been cancelled.

The Defence Force said it would resume flights as soon as possible.

The helicopter that made the emergency landing had nine people on board at the time, and was experiencing problems with one of its two engines.

These helicopters have been an unmitigated disaster. Gerry Brownlee criticised the purchase of them back in 2015:

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has questioned the $177 million purchase of NH90 helicopters, after they failed to be of any use during the Pacific aid mission in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

Despite the Navy’s multi-role vessel Canterbury being capable of carrying four NH90s and a Seasprite helicopter, the defence force was unable to take any of its new NH90s to Vanuatu because they were too difficult to transport and would not cope with Pacific winds. 

Canterbury sailed to Vanuatu on March 22, carrying personnel, heavy engineering equipment, a seasprite and other supplies to support the recovery effort.

A C-130 hercules also travelled to Port Vila, carrying cargo including shelter supplies, water containers, generators and stoves.

The helicopters were ordered in 2006 by then minister Phil Goff, under the Labour government, to replace the air force’s Iroquois helicopters from the Vietnam War era.

The purchase came under fire in 2012 when it was revealed a serious flaw meant they could not be flown in snowy conditions.

Brownlee appeared to take a swipe at the purchase of the NH90s and their absence from the aid contingent.

“They’re not dogs but they are big aircraft and we don’t have a lot of ways to transport them,” he said.

Asked whether they were a poor replacement for the aging Iroquois, he said: “We had to replace them with something”.

“They are what they are, they are what we’ve got.”

And guess who was one of the biggest supporters of these useless lumps of metal?

Goff said he could only go on the comments former National Defence Ministers Wayne Mapp and Jonathan Coleman made about them.

“They described them as superb aircraft, and in most respects they are superb aircraft. Why they were not taken up to Vanuatu, I haven’t had a clear explanation from the Minister of Defence – he should be more explicit about that.

“And if he feels his two predecessors in the National Party, as Ministers of Defence, got it wrong, then he should come straight out and say so, rather than the implied comments he’s making now.”

Dear old bewildered Wayne Mapp…the guy who supports Nicky Hager and John Stephenson. Mapp went further:

National Government Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said they would provide a quantum leap for the air force. They would, he proclaimed, be the “cornerstone of the Defence Force’s capability”.

Wayne even defended them here on this blog when I challenged him on his record as Minister. He always was the proverbial policy wonk who read everything knew everything and still made dopey decisions.

These helicopters are poos…time to hold someone to account.


– Fairfax


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.