Bringing back the Strike Wing the Shearer way

The more I read about David Shearer the more I like him. I think he has a great deal to offer New Zealand especially with regard to our military and Police.

Today at lunch we discussed this at length and thought that perhaps the Police could be opened up to contestable funding based on results. If Privatising Protection is taken to its logical conclusion then why couldn’t we leverage this method to better fund outcomes in Policing?

If a murder is conducted, for instance, then competing policing organisations could bid to work on the solving of the crime with a large amount of the fee paid only upon success. Same for action against anti-social crimes in particular areas and so on saving us money and getting better results at the same time. Arguably we already have this system in place with security companies but those are funded by individuals and companies directly. I think the contestable funding model could really have merit.

We also got around to discussing how New Zealand could possibly replace the Air Force Strike Wing capability and then we realised that the solution was actually staring us in the face.

Once of the major reasons that Helen Clark gave for getting rid of the Strike Wing was the ongoing costs of maintaining such advanced technologies and upgrading them. With David Shearer’s brilliant work on outsourcing of military and security and his rightful questioning of the ability of sovereign nations to adequately defend themselves the solution surely is to simply outsource our air force.

I wondered if this was possible but a quick Google Search soon proved to me that indeed it could be.

In a cavernous airplane hangar in Quincy, Illinois, two hours south of Chicago a possible solution exists;

A decade ago, only sovereign nations could afford to buy and maintain sophisticated, high-performance fighters. But Kirlin’s unmarked hangars contain an air force more formidable than that of many countries. He has 30 jets in flying condition, 10 in line for maintenance, and dozens more to be delivered. His MiG-29 Fulcrums, designed in the late 1970s to go head-to-head with the hottest US planes, are the only privately owned Fulcrums in the world. Kirlin breaks into a big smile whenever he looks at them.

Right so, yes we can have an airforce and with a strike capability far in excess of anything we had before. The idea has much merit, so much so that USAID is considering building its own private airforce as well, using paid for contractors to deliver. I did wonder if we could just hire Blackwater.

Turns out we can and they do have exactly what we need;

Super TucanoAugust 27, 2007: Security company Blackwater U.S.A. is buying Super Tucano light combat aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work. Brazil. The Super Tucano is basically a prop driven trainer that is equipped for combat missions. The aircraft can carry up to 1.5 tons of weapons, including 12.7mm machine-guns, bombs and missiles. The aircraft cruises at about 500 kilometers an hour and can stay in the air for about 6.5 hours per sortie. One of the options is a FLIR (infrared radar that produces a photo realistic video image in any weather) and a fire control system for bombing. Colombia is using the Super Tucanos for counter-insurgency work (there are over 20,000 armed rebels and drug gang gunmen in the country). The aircraft is also used for border patrol. The U.S. Air Force is watching that quite closely. The Super Tucano costs $9 million each, and come in one or two seat versions. The bubble canopy provides excellent visibility. This, coupled with its slow speed (versus jets), makes it an excellent ground attack aircraft.

Blackwater already has a force of armed helicopters in Iraq, and apparently wants something a little faster, and more heavily armed, to fulfill its security contracts overseas. Initially, Blackwater is getting one two-seater, for pilot training in the United States.

Brilliant! David Shearer really needs to be selected urgently then John Key in the spirit of co-operation in this time of economic crisis needs to take David Shearer into cabinet as Defence Minister. He will easily be able to restore a Strike Wing capability and at a fraction of the cost simply by outsourcing to the likes of Blackwater.

Not only that but Blackwater now also has capability in several areas that could be extremely useful if we decided to outsource aspects of the Navy and Army including;

Blackwater K-9Training canines to work in patrol capacities as war dogs, explosives and drug detection, and various other roles for military and law enforcement duties.

Blackwater Airships, LLC – Blackwater Airships LLC was established in January 2006 to build a remotely piloted airship vehicle (RPAV).

Grizzly APCBlackwater Armored VehicleBlackwater recently introduced its own armored personnel carrier, the Grizzly APC.

It comes in 4×2, 4×4, and 6×6 versions with three different Caterpillar diesel engines are available.

Its armor, called the “Blackwater High Threat Armor Protection System” is claimed to defeat .50 caliber rounds as well as IEDs. It is constructed of AR500 steel, and incorporates angled walls and a v-hull chassis to deflect the blast waves produced by explosives. It uses Fiber-Tek armor reinforced belly and lowers, with a fully enclosed drive train. ArmorThane tactical coating on the interior and exterior reduces spall probability.

There are two top-side egress hatches, five gun ports (two on each side and one in rear), and transparent armored windows, capable of NIJ level 3 protection. The Grizzly makes use of forward and rear 400,000+ candle power halogen searchlights, which can be operated remotely. It also has a ringmount roof turret, capable of mounting a 12.7mm machine gun, which may be operated from a remote weapon station.

Blackwater Maritime SolutionsBlackwater Maritime Security Services offers tactical training for maritime force protection units. In the past it has trained Greek security forces for the 2004 Olympics, Azerbaijan Naval Sea Commandos, and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior. Blackwater’s facilities include a manmade lake, with stacked containers simulating the hull and deck of a ship for maritime assaults. Blackwater received a contract to train United States Navy sailors following the attack on the USS Cole.

It has also recently purchased a 183ft vessel, the McArthur, which has been outfitted for disaster response and training. According to Blackwater USA, it features “state of the art navigation systems, full GMDSS communications, SEATEL Broadband, dedicated command and control bays, helicopter decks, hospital and multiple support vessel capabilities. The McArthur was built in 1966 by the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. and served as a research vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until its decommissioning in 2003. The ship will be home-ported in Norfolk, Virginia.

See, there are solutions for even the replacement of the expensive and under utilised LAV III’s whereby we only pay for what we use within the outsourcing model. I can certainly see merit especially with the Word Cup coming up for use of the K9 units and the Maritime forces for border, fisheries and smuggling control.

David Shearer must be slected for Mt Albert, fo the sake of the nation.

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