The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has begun the process of retiring its fleet of 13 Iroquois helicopters to replace them with eight new NH90 helicopters.

Iroquois helicopters can carry an underslung load of up to 1,045kg at a cruising speed of 195km/h, and travel up to a maximum range of 682km with auxiliary fuel tanks.

The RNZAF will receive the first NH90 this year, and the remainder by 2013 for a total of $771m.

The NH90 helicopter will be able to carry an underslung load of 4,000kg, 19 passengers or 12 fully equipped troops.