The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has received three new Seasprite SH-2G(I) helicopters from Kaman Aerospace at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland.

The delivery is part of a $120m contract signed by Kaman and the New Zealand Ministry of Defence in May 2013 for the purchase of ten aircraft.

Kaman will deliver the remaining helicopters by September. The new SH-2G(I) helicopters replace the SH-2G models currently in service.

The Royal Australian Navy had originally ordered the SH-2G(A), but the contract was cancelled in 2008.

NZDF navy chief rear admiral Jack Steer said: "The Seasprites perform a vital function for the navy and enhance the roles of our ships at sea, by undertaking a range of tasks, including maritime surveillance, search and rescue, counter-terrorism and utility lift.

"The Seasprites perform a vital function for the navy and enhance the roles of our ships at sea."

"We’ve operated Seasprites since the 1990s and they have proven to be a great capability for us."

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The NZDF installed a Seasprite on HMNZS Te Mana to support the multinational combined task force in anti-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden.

Equipped with Penguin anti-ship missiles, the Super Seasprite will support missions such as anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, over-the-horizon targeting, surveillance, troop transport, vertical replenishment, search and rescue and utility missions.

The helicopter was developed to comply with US Navy requirements and is currently operational with the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Egyptian Air Force and Polish Navy.

Image: One of three SH-2G(I) helicopters accepted into the NZDF. Photo: courtesy of the NZDF.