Warplanes: Two Nations Go Fighterless

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October 9, 2005: Another Pacific island nation has gotten rid of its air force. Well, sort of. New Zealand sold off its warplanes, after disbanding its fighter force in 2001. Last month, the Philippines removed from service its eight F-5 fighters. These 1960s era aircraft were not much of a match for any more recent warplanes, and expensive to maintain. The Philippines, like New Zealand, has kept helicopters, and some reconnaissance aircraft, in service. The Philippines is also keeping in service five S211 jet trainers, which can be used for ground attack, or air-to-air operations (like against terrorists who have hijacked an aircraft.) In both cases, the nations in question saw no practical need for a jet fighter force. While this is dicey for the Philippines, which faces possible clashes with China, New Zealand is nowhere near any hostile nation’s air power. But the Filipinos are being practical, as they could never afford to buy and maintain warplanes sufficient to deal with a Chinese air threat. Like New Zealand, the Philippines depends on its friendship with the United States for protection. American warplanes provide better protection than any jet fighters New Zealand and the Philippines could put in the air.

 


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