New Zealand Makes its LUH Choice
The Royal New Zealand Air Force is a shadow of its former self these days, but at least the service was recently given permission to upgrade its helicopter capabilities. Phase 1 involved buying 9 NH90s in 2006 to replace its Vietnam-era Hueys. Phase 2 aims to replace their Bell B47G-3B-2 Sioux, an upgraded derivative of the Bell 47 helicopters that most people recognize from watching the Korean War TV show M
- A*S*H. Over 6,000 Bell 47s were produced in over 20 versions from 1946-1973.
The AgustaWestland A109 is New Zealand’s preferred choice for a new training and light utility helicopter (T/LUH). It will provide a platform to train aircrew in basic helicopter operations, plus the advanced skills required to operate both the Navy SH-2G Super Seasprites, and the RNZAF NH90s that were scheduled to come into service in 2010, but have been delayed. It is also capable of performing basic light utility missions like transport, rescue, and medical evacuation if needed.
The New Zealand Ministry of Defence will now begin negotiations with Finmeccanica subsidiary Agusta-Westland for 5 aircraft and a simulator. The A019E/LUH currently serves with the armed forces of Malaysia, South Africa, and Sweden, the US Coast Guard, and with a number of national police and border agencies around the world. The broader A109 family also serves in Albania, Argentina, Australia (Navy), Belgium (A109BA, associated with a major bribery scandal), Benin, China (licensed CA109), Chile (Carabineros), Ghana, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, UK, and Venezuela. RNZAF release.
For further updates regarding New Zealand’s A109 and NH90 helicoppter buys, see “New Zealand Selects NH90, A109 Helicopters as its new Fleet“