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New Training/Light Utility Helicopters for Defence

8 May 2008 Media Statement

New Training/Light Utility Helicopters for Defence

Defence Minister Phil Goff today signed a contract for the purchase of new training/light utility helicopters for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

“The contract involves the purchase of five Agusta-Westland A109LUH helicopters, a flight simulator and an extensive package including spares, onboard equipment, tools and other equipment, with a total cost of $139 million,” Phil Goff said.

“In considering tenders, we chose a higher cost aircraft because of its capability of operating at sea and training Seasprite helicopter pilots.

“The purchase complements the Governments earlier decision to purchase eight NH-90 medium utility helicopters at a cost of $771 million.

“The combined purchase of the two new helicopter fleets is a huge step forward in modernising the New Zealand Defence Force” Phil Goff said.

“While a big investment, we will have state of the art equipment which will serve New Zealand well for the next 30 years.

“Helicopters play a key role across all three services of the Defence Force. They are amongst the most useful and heavily utilised forms of equipment -having utility for deployment, counter terrorism, command and control, search and rescue and disaster relief.

“The Agusta-Westland A109 is more than just a generational change in technology from the old Sioux training helicopter it replaces

“The two-seater Sioux is Vietnam War era with the sole role of basic pilot training.

“While the Agusta-Westland A109 carries a smaller load than an Iroquois, it fulfils all of the larger helicopter’s roles and is much faster.” Phil Goff said.

“It is twin-engined, has an integrated digital cockpit, and is equipped with ballistic protection and secure communications. It has an advanced autopilot and is configured for night flying. It is also wheeled, allowing for training and use from naval vessels.

“It will provide training for crew on the NH-90s and for the crew of the Seasprite naval helicopters.

“Agusta-Westland is a major and proven helicopter manufacturer, and the A109 is already used in many other defence forces including Sweden, South Africa, Malaysia, the UK, Australia, and US.

“The A109s will form part of No 3 Squadron at Ohakea and will enter into service in 2011.” Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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