The Point of Order team was wondering why it took the RNZAF so long to ready an aircraft for the Afghan mission.
One of our contacts provided this information:
The problem is that the air force has only three out of five Hercules in service (one of them only recently back from an extended operational training exercise in the US). Two are in long-term maintenance at Blenheim.
Currently there are no active Boeing 757s. One of these is in heavy maintenance in Christchurch while the other is grounded without engines at Whenuapai, awaiting new engines being recycled from a US boneyard It seems the air force had been unable to secure regular supplies because of Covid and the demand for freighter engines.
Then there is the question of pilots. Some of the 757 and Hercules pilots are undergoing training on the new Boeing P-8A Poseidons and the air force has not, in recent years, been over-endowed with aircrew.
As if that wasn’t challenge enough for the air force, the government is under pressure from Finance Minister Grant Robertson to strip around $4 billion from the long-term defence capability programme.