Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 Helicopter Reaches 2,000 Flying Hours
Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 Helicopter Reaches 2,000 Flying Hours

Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 Helicopter Reaches 2,000 Flying Hours

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NHIndustries NH90 medium utility military helicopter #3302 is the first in the world of its type to reach 2000 flying hours. The RNZAF high serviceability rates allow us to fly more hours per aircraft than any other nation and is enabled by excellent maintenance, logistics and engineering teams. These efforts ensure that the RNZF are always ready to deliver military helicopter operations for New Zealand such as disaster relief, counter-terrorism, battlefield support and search and rescue. The RNZAF operates nine NH90-TTHs with No 3 Squadron Kimihia Ka Pat.

In July 2006, the New Zealand government signed a NZ$771 million (~€500M) contract to purchase eight NH90s (plus one extra for spares) to replace the RNZAF fleet of 13 UH-1 Iroquois helicopters. For ease of manufacture and logistics, New Zealand deliberately chose its 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.

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Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 3 Squadron NH90 helicopter #3302
Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 3 Squadron NH90 helicopter #3302

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 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. As of November 2020, the NH90 has logged 265,372 flight hours in the armed forces of thirteen nations.

The NH90 is the first production helicopter to feature entirely fly-by-wire flight controls. There are two main variants, the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) for army use and the navalised NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH); each customer typically has various alterations and customisations made to their own NH90 fleets, such as different weapons, sensors, and cabin arrangements, to meet their own specific requirements. Since its introduction into service, the NH90 has suffered several teething issues, which have delayed active deployment of the type by some operators.

Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 3 Squadron NH90 helicopter #3302
Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 3 Squadron NH90 helicopter #3302
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