The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has taken delivery of two new French NH90 helicopters as part of the modernisation of New Zealand’s armed forces.
The delivery follows a $771m order placed in 2006 with NH Industries and is part of New Zealand’s NZ$3.3bn long-term development plan (LTDP) aimed at helping its military meet minimum capability levels.
The NH90, intended to replace the aging UH-1 Iroquois helicopters, will increase the prospect of New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF)engagement in distant ad-hoc coalitions.
The multi-role, medium-sized, twin-engine NH90 helicopters are capable of carrying over twice the Iroquois’s payload and can operate in harsh military environments, over land and sea, day or night.
The aircraft are equipped with four-axis auto-pilot and advanced mission flight aids, specific mission and role-fit equipment, infrared and night vision systems, on-board monitoring and diagnostic systems, and fly-by-wire control technology.
The air force will also operate the helicopter from the New Zealand Navy’s 9,000t multi-role vessel HMNZ Canterbury to enhance counter-terrorism, disaster relief, search and rescue, and other operation capabilities.
The RNZAF will receive the remaining six NH90s next year, and also received five new A109 helicopters to replace the old Sioux aircraft this year.
The helicopters are also in use with the German, Spanish, Italian and French Armed Forces.
As per the LTDP, NZDF will also be equipped with new advanced training aircraft and upgrades or replacements for existing Seasprite helicopters.
Image Caption: The NH90 performs military, counter-terrorism, disaster relief, and search and rescue operations.