AUCKLAND, New Zealand, April 15 (UPI) -- Officials from the New Zealand Defense Force have officially retired the Seasprite SH-2G combat helicopter from the country's naval fleet.
Military officials held the retirement ceremony for the Seasprite fleet at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland. The final SH-2G helicopter will be pulled from the fleet later this month, once it completes recovery operations in Fiji, according to local news reports.
Purchased in 2001, the five SH-2G Seasprites in the Royal New Zealand Navy logged over 15,000 flight hours flying maratime wargames, counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations in the Gulf of Aden as well as humanitarian operations in the South Pacific.
Military officials will replace the retired Seasprite fleet with eight new SH-2G(I) Super Seasprites
"Upgrading the naval helicopter fleet . . . gives the New Zealand Defence Force a significant increase in capability," said Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies during the Seasprite retirement ceremony.
The SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite will feature new sensors and weapons plus an upgraded flight control and communication system to transmit information from the helicopter to the country's naval vessels.