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Last Helicopter Detachment Heads To Timor-Leste

10 July 2008

Last Helicopter Detachment Heads To Timor-Leste

The last Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopter detachment to serve in Timor-Leste will depart from Palmerston North airport on Monday.

The 30-strong team of Number 3 Squadron personnel will spend three months in Dili before withdrawing their personnel and two Iroquois helicopters.

Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Ben Pryor previously served in Timor-Leste during 2000 and again in 2001, and he is looking forward to seeing the changes that have occurred in the region since then.

"I'm definitely looking forward to returning to Timor-Leste and continuing to play a part in the rebuilding and stabilisation of this small nation The current New Zealand mission has been very successful to date, however we realise the East Timorese still face a significant number of challenges to ensure their own peace and stability.

"For that reason I'm also very interested to see what progress has been made in the 7 years since I last deployed there."

The 3 Squadron personnel and two Iroquois helicopters support the Combined Joint Task Force in Timor-Leste.

They work alongside Australian Defence Force assets and carry out personnel movement, aero medical evacuation and air logistics support tasks.

Support from the RNZAF was first requested by the government of Timor-Leste in 1999, where it was maintained for three years, and then again for an 18-month period from April 2007.

This deployment was due to come to an end in October 2008 to allow the beginning of the transition to the new NH90 helicopters that will come into service between 2010 and 2011.

Media are invited to attend the farewell for the last helicopter detachment rotation to Timor-Leste.

When: 9.20am, Monday 14 July 2008

Where: Palmerston North Airport Domestic Terminal

What: Departure of 30 personnel for a three month tour of duty in Timor-Leste.

ENDS

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