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NZ Approves Purchase Of $30m Helicopter For Navy

New Zealand Approves Purchase Of Fifth SH-2G(NZ) Super Seasprite

The Government of New Zealand has approved purchase of a fifth Kaman SH-2G(NZ) Super Seasprite helicopter for the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The new helicopter, which will operate from the New Zealand Navy's two new ANZAC frigates and the Leander class frigate HMNZS Canterbury, will be provided under a contract to be valued at an estimated $30 million, including spares, support equipment and air- to-surface missiles. This additional aircraft will bring the total value of Kaman's SH-2 program in New Zealand to more than $200 million.

Deliveries of the first four SH-2G(NZ)s are scheduled to occur in 2000. Delivery schedule for the fifth aircraft is yet to be determined

The SH-2G(NZ) helicopter has both a surveillance and combat role, and can be armed with Maverick missiles, torpedoes and depth charges. It can fly supplies and personnel from ship to shore, perform search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, and play a key role in naval boarding operations.

Adm. Huntington Hardisty, U.S. Navy (Ret.), president of Kaman Aerospace International, said, "New Zealand is among the first navies in the Asia-Pacific region to develop a small-ship helicopter modernization program. We're delighted that the New Zealand government has authorized another aircraft. It gives us great confidence that the SH-2G will meet future customer requirements."

New Zealand Naval Flight Commander Lt. Cmdr. John Toon, said "An effective maritime helicopter is an essential addition to the fighting capability of a modern frigate because it enhances its ability to defend itself and other shipping against both surface and undersea adversaries. A naval force without modern helicopters is vulnerable and becomes a liability to our regional allies," he said. "A helicopter such as the Super Seasprite increases the surveillance capability of a frigate at least six-fold."

SH-2Fs Deploy on Te Kaha, Canterbury Frigates

An earlier version of the Seasprite, the SH-2F, is bridging the gap between the withdrawal from service of the RNZN's Wasp helicopters and the introduction of the advanced SH-2G Super Seasprite. In preparation for deliveries of the SH-2G(NZ)s next year, the RNZN has begun sea deployments with the interim SH-2F Seasprite. Single-aircraft SH-2F detachments are embarked aboard the ANZAC frigate Te Kaha and the Leander-class frigate Canterbury. The deployments are intended to maintain naval aviation skills and broaden naval helicopter operating concepts.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Toon, "Even the SH-2F is a quantum leap in capability compared to the older Wasps, and it's getting us ready for the jump to the SH-2G. There would be a huge break in experience levels if we stopped operating between decommissioning the Wasps and accepting the SH-2Gs. The Navy would really suffer from the lack of continuity and experience." New Zealand naval aircrews flew single-engined Wasps from 1966 to 1998.

Next Generation

New Zealand's five new SH-2G(NZ)s will be equipped with Telephonics APS-143(V)3 radar, FLIR Systems AAQ-22 thermal imager, and Litton Amacon LR-100 electronic support measures. The aircraft will be armed with AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The analog cockpit is based on the Litton ASN-150 tactical navigation system.

In addition to its advanced systems, the SH-2G(NZ) will be powered by twin General Electric T700-401 turboshaft engines and will have Kaman's second-generation composite main rotor blades. It will use the Harpoon deck-lock system to recover aboard ship in high sea states.

The helicopters will be built and test flown by Kaman, disassembled for shipment to New Zealand, and reassembled in-country by Safe Air. Aircrew and maintainer training will be conducted in New Zealand with Kaman assistance.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force, which has responsibility for the maintenance of the aircraft, is currently examining maintenance options.

Kaman Aerospace International is the international affiliate of Kaman Aerospace Corp., a subsidiary of Kaman Corp., based in Bloomfield, Conn. In addition to the SH-2G Super Seasprite, the company manufactures the K-MAX(R) external lift helicopter, and is a major subcontractor for commercial and military aircraft, and a leader in electro-optics and advanced technology products. ENDS....

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