17 Februari 2012

New Helicopters Take to the Air after Long Flight

17 Februari 2012

FIRST FLIGHT: The air force's two new NH90 helicopters had their first flights on Tuesday, since being delivered to Ohakea Air Force Base in December. (photo : NZDF)

The air force's new helicopters have had their first test flight since arriving in the country, but the results are being kept under wraps.

Defence spokesman Paul Stein confirmed two NH90s were taken for flights on Tuesday with staff from Nato Helicopter Industries (NHI) "to make sure all the controls and instruments and everything were working as they should since being shipped over from France".

Mr Stein said the results of the test flights could not be released yet due to "commercial sensitivity".
Two new NH90 helicopters were delivered to Ohakea Air Force Base on December 6 on board a Russian Antonov AN124 cargo aeroplane – one of the biggest aircraft in the world.

Six more NH90s were still to be delivered, with the Ministry of Defence hoping the next two could arrive as early as next month.

They will be delivered in three more shipments of two helicopters on board the Antonov, with each trip estimated to cost about $1.6 million, but could vary depending on fuel costs.

Nine NH90s were ordered in 2006 at a cost of $771m.

They will replace the air force's Vietnam War-era Iroquois helicopters that have been in service for more than 40 years.

They will be on display to the public at next month's Royal New Zealand Air Force's 75th Anniversary Air Show, along with a number of other aircraft from six different countries.

The French Armed Forces of New Caledonia, Singapore Air Force, Royal Air Force, Australian Air Force, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps will join with the New Zealand Air Force to perform air and ground displays at Ohakea on March 31.

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