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The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopters are participating in a military training exercise across the Central North Island.

Called Exercise Steel Talon, the training drill is a major tactical flying exercise that helps maintain the capability of the forces and assets to operate when deployed overseas.

Conducted over the next two weeks, RNZAF Base Ohakea No 3 Squadron will work with New Zealand (NZ) Army units during the exercise.

The exercise will test tactical flying capability, gunnery skills, air lift and transport tasks of the squadron.

During the exercise, three NH90s helicopters will carry three underslung L105 Howitzer guns from an airfield in Hunterville to Waiouru Military Training Area.

Additionally, NZ Army receives operational and training support, air transport, special operations and aeromedical evacuation from No 3 Squadron, as well as helicopters and conversion training for pilots and aircrew.

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No 3 Squadron also carries out search and rescue missions. It provides support to NZ Police and other government agencies.

RNZAF commanding officer of No 3 Squadron Wing commander Christopher Andrew said: “Exercise Steel Talon gives the opportunity to hone skills that will be required in deployed operations.

“Being able to train in various environments is vital to replicate real-life scenarios.”

It is scheduled to conclude on 19 June.

Last month, the NZ Government approved a deal for the upgrade of critical infrastructure at RNZAF Base Ohakea.

Under the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme, the first phase of the NZD206m ($125m) deal work will commence later this year.