Government to consider purchase of 11 Super Seasprites
On 14 May 2012, the Minister of Defence announced that the New Zealand Defence Force, through the Ministry of Defence, is investigating purchase of eleven Super Seasprite SH-2G(A) naval combat helicopters to replace the existing fleet of five machines. The Asia Pacific Defence Reporter has published an informative article on the proposed purchase.
The Super Seasprites being considered for purchase were modified for the Royal Australian Navy in the 2000s with upgraded avionics and tactical electronics. The airframes were originally manufactured in the 1960s and 1980s, but have been fully refurbished with a new upper fuselage section and are in as-new condition with a 10,000 hour service life. The aircraft were not accepted for service by the RAN, primarily because of issues related to the avionics. These issues have since been corrected by the manufacturer.
Before a final recommendation is made to the Government on whether to proceed with the purchase the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force are undertaking a programme of testing using its own personnel, and independent evaluators. Should the Ministry of Defence complete the purchase process, the SH-2G(A) aircraft will provide a significantly improved capability to that of the existing aircraft, and are likely to remain in service beyond the 2020s. The government will make the final decision to approve any purchase.