In a first for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, four Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopters from Ohakea-based 3 Sqn were flown onto the amphibious sea support vessel HMNZS Canterbury on 21 June.

The transports will take part in Exercise "Tropic Astra '09" in Samoa between 29 July and 31 August, primarily supporting tropical flying and aircrew survival training. Up to 100 air force personnel and around 90 army officer cadets will also participate in the manoeuvres.

 New Zealand UH-1H - Peter Clark
© Peter Clark

HMNZS Canterbury is scheduled to leave Auckland on 23 July for Apia, also carrying a navy Kaman Aerospace SH-2G Super Seasprite.

The air force is to replace its current UH-1s - in service since 1966 - with eight NH Industries NH90s. Its first example flew on 4 May, and deliveries should run between mid-2010 and 2013.

Source: Flight International