The New Zealand Ministry of Defence has awarded a NZ$154 million ($145 million) contract for trainer aircraft and related pilot training systems to Beechcraft Defense Co.
UPI reports that, in making the decision the Government ignored the only locally based aircraft manufacturer, Pacific Aerospace from Hamilton.
The Government will purchase a fleet of 11 high-performance Beechcraft T-6C single-engine turboprop aircraft. These will replace Pacific Aerospace's CT-4E Airtrainers and the twin-engined turboprop Beechcraft King Air B200s.
According to the ministry, Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman was quoted as saying, "This modern, safe and reliable pilot training system will enable our military pilots to be trained to the highest standards, and is in line with the training systems used in Australia, the U.K., the U.S. and Canada.
"The T-6C has a proven track record in service with other militaries, and meets the [New Zealand military's] performance and safety standards."
As stuff.co.nz reports, Coleman said the CT-4Es were due to reach the end of their service life in 2018. Their manufacturer Pacific Aerospace wanted to renew the contract but fell out of the running late last year.
According to Pacific Aerospace general manager Damian Camp, if the Government had purchased a fleet of new CT4 Airtrainers to train new pilots, it would have required only about half the number of more expensive T-6Cs to be purchased for advanced training.
He claimed that such a deal would have saved the Defence Force between NZ$75m and NZ$125m in the first two years alone, including acquisition and operating costs.