The eight remaining Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Skyhawks have finally been flogged off, albeit for a fraction of the amount they were previously to be sold for and the millions it has cost to keep in a saleable condition since they were grounded 10 years ago.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has announced that United States company JDI Holdings is going to pay $NZ7.9 million for the aircraft, which have been gathering dust at Woodbourne, Blenheim, since the Labour Government decommissioned them in 2001.
The deal, which includes engines and spare parts, depends on approval by the US State Department.
"This is the resolution of what has been a long process,'' Dr Mapp said.
"It is expected that JDI Holdings, which intends to fly the Skyhawks, will take delivery of the planes within six months.''
Dr Mapp also announced that the Aermacchis and Strikemasters, no longer needed by the RNZAF, would go to aviation museums around New Zealand.
The Labour Government had all 17 Skyhawks jets on the books at $NZ155 million in 2005 and said a deal had been done with a US aviation training provider to sell them, but this fell through because of the time it took for the State Department to grant approval.
Stephen Hoadley, associate professor of political studies at the University of Auckland, told Newstalk ZB today that, given this figure, the current sale was not a very good deal.
Mr Hoadley said the company which secured the deal, Ernst & Young, would also get a finders fee of about $1m, and there would be legal fees of about $300,000.
"You subtract all the maintenance costs and the transfer costs from the purchase price, New Zealand is actually paying money to send these aircraft off to JDI Holdings.''
The other nine Skyhawks of the original fleet of 17 have been permanently loaned to museums around New Zealand and one museum in Australia.
Aermacchis will go to six aviation museums, with a further three museums still to confirm their acceptance.
Some Aermacchis will stay at the RNZAF's Ground Training Wing in Woodbourne and may be used as non-flying training aids replacing the Strikemasters used for that purpose.
One Strikemaster will be offered to MOTAT, and three to other museums.
In December, Dr Mapp said the Skyhawks and 17 Aermacchis had cost $34m to store and maintain since they were decommissioned, NZPA reported in April.