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RNZAF Helicopter Exercise Hits Central North Island Skies

10 June 2020

There may be some uncommon sights across the Central North Island over the next two weeks with Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopters firing flares and carrying around artillery as part of a military training exercise.

Exercise Steel Talon is designed to train helicopter crews in tactical battlefield operations. No. 3 Squadron from RNZAF Base Ohakea will be working alongside units from the New Zealand Army to test itself in various scenarios that would be found during combat operations.

The exercise started this week and runs until 19 June. The squadron will test tactical flying capability, gunnery skills, air lift and transport tasks, and supporting soldiers as they test their own battle skills.

Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Christopher Andrew, says the training is essential to ensure the squadron maintains operational capabilities.

“Exercise Steel Talon gives the opportunity to hone skills that will be required in deployed operations.

“Being able to train in various environments is vital to replicate real-life scenarios.”

The exercise will involve three NH90s carrying three underslung L105 Howitzer guns from an airfield outside Hunterville to Waiouru Military Training Area. Air assaults and tactical flying are also part of the programme.

As well as operational and training support for the New Zealand Army, including air transport, special operations and aeromedical evacuation, No. 3 Squadron also provides helicopter and conversion training for pilots and air crew.

It also conducts search and rescue missions, and supports and assists NZ Police and other Government agencies.

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