The New Zealand ministry of defence has taken delivery of the first two NH90 TTH helicopters from NH Industries, after ordering eight of the aircraft in July 2006.
NHI chartered an Antonov AN 124 cargo aircraft to freight the two helicopters and a range of spares and other equipment from Marseille Airport to Ohakea Air Base, where it landed yesterday. The helicopters have been produced at the Eurocopter facilities in Marignane, France.
NH Industries said the early delivery was motivated by the planned temporary closure of Marseille Marignane airport to heavy cargo flying activity for maintenance activities in January.
NHI remains responsible for those helicopters until the start of test and evaluation flying, which will take place after reassembly of the helicopters and when the required support elements will be available and operational in New Zealand, under NHI supervision. It is planned that NH90 flights will commence in January next year.
Firm orders for the NH90 have been placed by 14 countries including France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greece, Spain and Belgium in Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Oman. The NH90 has been developed in the TTH utility transport and NFH naval versions.
The NH90 programme is managed by NAHEMA (NATO Helicopter Management Agency) representing France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Portugal, and by the NHIndustries industrial consortium comprising AgustaWestland (32%), Eurocopter (62.5%) and Fokker (5.5%).
Earlier this year the Royal New Zealand Air Force took delivery of its first AgustaWestland A109 LUH Light Utility Helicopters. Five A109s were ordered in 2008 and another three were ordered last year. The new A109s are being used for training, light utility tasks in support of the other services and government agencies.
New Zealand’s Air Force is modernising its air force and is refurbishing and upgrading its five Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports and six Lockheed P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.