The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is to perform initial flight testing on its two new Augusta 109 helicopters this week.

The A109s would be used to train pilots before flying the fleet of NH90 helicopters, and will also be used for passenger transport, surveillance, observation and reconnaissance, and search and rescue missions.

The A109 consists of a flight simulator, can be fitted with a door gun and winch and has a top speed of 300km/h.

The helicopters are the first of five that will replace the existing ageing fleet of Bell 47G-B1 Sioux training helicopters, according to 3 News.

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