The National Party has backed a legal challenge by campaigners trying to pressure the Government into keeping the air combat wing.

The Government announced in May that it would scrap the Skyhawk and Aermacchi trainer aircraft fleets, and 700 Air Force jobs.

Save Our Squadrons campaigner Clive Bradbury said yesterday that proceedings would be filed in the High Court on Monday or Tuesday to try to save the Skyhawks. An application for an injunction was likely to be heard a week later.

The group says Defence Minister Mark Burton acted unlawfully by removing a combat element of the Air Force.

If successful, the injunction would compel the Government to halt the disbanding process - postponing the laying off of 145 Air Force staff made redundant this month and the Skyhawk sale process, Mr Bradbury said.

National defence spokesman Max Bradford said the Government had no electoral mandate to axe the Air Force squadrons.

"We support the campaign seeking an injunction to prevent the Government from disbanding the Air Force," he said.

Mr Bradbury said the court challenge would be financed by public contributions.

The campaign, in its second month, was still receiving about 100 letters of support a day.

A spokesman for Mr Burton said yesterday that it would be inappropriate to comment given the pending legal action.