Australia's navy has commissioned its first squadron to fly the NH Industries MRH90 helicopter, the type that will replace its retired Westland Sea Kings.
"The commissioning of 808 Squadron is a significant milestone for the navy, as we formally welcome into service a new-generation maritime support helicopter that not only replaces the retired Sea Kings, but delivers new capabilities and a capacity to meet emerging requirements in the future," says Rear Adm Tim Barrett, commander of the Australian fleet.
The Royal Australian Navy's 808 Sqn was originally formed in the 1950s to fly fighters from the nation's aircraft carriers of the era, but was later de-commissioned.
The MRH90 will continue testing following the commissioning of the unit at HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, New South Wales.
Canberra is to receive a combined total of 47 MRH90s for its army and navy, with Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database recording 22 of the NH90 derivative as having been delivered so far. Its original order was for 46 units, but another is to be supplied as a result of a contract renegotiation agreed with Australian Aerospace in May 2013. This should also see the MRH90 acquisition removed from the nation's Projects of Concern list by year-end.
Additional reporting by Craig Hoyle in London