There are eight NH90 helicopters in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) fleet. It has the capability to support ground operations, disaster relief, search and rescue, counter-drug operations and counter terrorism. Police, Customs, Maritime NZ, Civil Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZAID and the Department of Conservation are able to make effective use of the NH90. NH90 can carry up to 12 fully equipped soldiers or up to 18 lightly equipped troops (allowing for door gunners). It can carry up to 9 stretchers plus medical staff or palletised cargo; it can also lift the Army’s Light Operational Vehicle.
In 2006, the New Zealand government signed a NZ$771 million (~€500M) contract to purchase eight NH90s (plus one extra for spares) to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) fleet of 13 UH-1 Iroquois helicopters. For ease of manufacture and logistics, New Zealand deliberately chose their NH90 configuration to be nearly identical to the larger Australian fleet. On 7 December 2011, deliveries to New Zealand formally began with the first two NH90s being airlifted by a leased Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft to RNZAF Base Ohakea. In February 2013, the first phase of the RNZAF’s operational evaluation of the NH90 was completed, clearing the type to begin operational duties.
Between September 2013 and July 2014, the first four delivered NH90s were retrofitted to a final operational configuration; later aircraft were already delivered to this standard. On 31 October 2014, the RNZAF announced that they had received into service the last of the eight NH90 TTHs. Following command structure changes in December 2014, the NH90 fleet was tasked with additional responsibilities, including casualty evacuation during search and rescue operations and providing transport services to the New Zealand Police and other government personnel.
The NHIndustries NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter. It was developed in response to NATO requirements for a battlefield helicopter which would also be capable of being operated in naval environments. The NH90 was developed and is manufactured by NHIndustries, a collaborative company, which is owned by Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) and Fokker Aerostructures. The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in December 1995; the type first entered operational service in 2007. The NHIndustries NH90 has logged 127,000 flight hours in the armed forces of thirteen nations.