Air Force sends Iroquois helicopters to Samoa
Wednesday May 23, 2012: The NZ Air Force has sent three of its Iroquois helicopters to Samoa for an annual flying exercise.
The helicopters were flown to Samoa on Air Force C130 Hercules planes.
Wing Commander Shaun Clark said that with so much of the RNZAF’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief work carried out in the Pacific Islands, personnel must train in the tropics where the humid air decreased the performance of helicopters.
“We’ve been presented with a range of challenging tasks ideal for developing our tropical flying skills, ranging from ferrying a water tank to Na’mua Island, to participating in disaster relief exercises.”
The contingent will also take part in Samoa’s independence celebrations on June 1, with a flyover as part of the morning parade.
The New Zealand High Commission has worked with the Samoan Government and non-government organisations (NGOs) to provide tasks for the RNZAF detachment that will benefit local communities, as well as provide training opportunities.
The RNZAF’s last real disaster relief mission in Samoa was after the 2009 tsunami, when two Iroquois helicopters carried supplies and personnel to remote areas as part of a wider NZ Defence Force effort.
NZDF spokeswoman Nicole Munro confirmed that the new NH90 helicopters will take part in similar exercises in future but were still undergoing implementation into the Defence Force.
The UH-1H Iroquois have been active in the NZDF since 1966 but retain a crucial role as the NZDF’s workhorse.
The chief of the New Zealand Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones has described the NH90 as “a modern helicopter, which will form the cornerstone of the New Zealand Defence Force capability over the next 30 years”.