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Navy flying skills should be maintained

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PETER WHITE Μ PFederal Member forMcPhersonSHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCEMEDIA RELEASED6/88 28 January 1988NAVY FLYING SKILLS SHOULD BE MAINTAINED"There is no doubt that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will one day be required to fly high performance fixed-wing aircraft. The skills required for this task must not be lost."The RAAF should make available some of its Macchi training jets to the RAN and, when training facilities allow it, some RAN pilots should be seconded to the RAAF to fly F/A 18 fighter aircraft."The RAN would then be in a position to provide a good deal of its own fleet support, a task which currently falls to the RAAF."If these two options w e r e .adopted there would be a - double benefit. They would reactivate the necessary flying skills in the RAN and would relieve the RAAF of some of the fleet support duties it presently has difficulty meeting because of the shortage of pilots in the RAAF."The RAN used to operate Macchis from Nowra and much of the necessary expertise remains there. At present, Macchis are flying into the area to carry out fleet support tasks and then flying out again. This does not make for the most economical use of aircraft."In due course there is no doubt Australia will acquire a sea-going platform capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft. Without such a platform our Navy is virtually confined to coastal waters in the event of major hostilities."Such a reduced naval capacity is not acceptable for a maritime nation, reliant as we are on overseas trade. It does not make sense to spend forty years building up a Fleet Air Arm and then see it abolished and the skills forgotten."By sharing some of the current RAAF responsibilities between the RAAF and the RAN it would be helping the RAAF at a difficult time as well as greatly assisting the RAN and the ADF as a w h ole."ENDS.For further information — Gold Coast (075) 50 1199 — Canberra (062) 72 7538