First Kiwi SH-2G(I) Seasprite flies

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 17, 2014
A RNZN SH-2G(I) take flight. (Kaman)
A RNZN SH-2G(I) take flight. (Kaman)

The first Kaman SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite for New Zealand has made its first production test flight at Kaman’s facility in Bloomfield Connecticut.

The aircraft, one of 10 on order for the Royal New Zealand Navy, will be used for maintenance and aircrew training and is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2014. They will replace SH-2G Seasprites, which were acquired in the late 1990s, in RNZN service from next year.

“This flight of a NZ SH-2G(I) with a ‘Kiwi’ roundel represents a major milestone,” NZDF project manager Peter Lowen said in a statement. “The effort invested by the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force in cooperation with Kaman is now paying off.”

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Of the 10 aircraft on order, eight will be operational machines and two will be used as a source of spares. The aircraft are all ex-RAN machines which were refurbished from retired USN SH-2F airframes.

The RAN never accepted its Seasprites into full operational service due to flight control system development problems, and the project was cancelled in 2008. For New Zealand service, they have been modified to be operated by a three-man crew instead of the more demanding two-crew configuration the RAN had specified.

 

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15 Comments

  • Raymond

    says:

    Skyhawks were transferred to NZ, now Seasprites… hmmm, makes me wonder whether they will resurrect their Air Combat Force sometime in the next few years and take some of the RAAF’s classic Hornets once they’ve been replaced by F-35’s…

  • Raymond

    says:

    What happened to the 11th ex-RAN airframe? Is Kaman holding onto it?

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    Raymond – we didn’t transfer the Seasprites to NZ. We gave them back to Kaman after the project was cancelled, and they then put them on the market.
    Cheers
    Andrew

  • Allan

    says:

    Yeah, the ex RAAF classic Hornets will be part of the free Kiwi Air Force. Though I truly doubt the RNZAF will ever have combat aircraft again, Unless you count the T6`s fully armed up as a combat force, Not forgetting the air intercept version of the P3K`s with sidewinders fitted.

  • Wayne

    says:

    I too wonder why NZ wouldn’t have taken all eleven of the SH-2G[A]’s……

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Why take 11 if you only need 10? Actually, they only need eight flyable machines for their ANZAC frigates and HMNZS Canterbury, and the other two are for parts.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • George

    says:

    Allan – “free Kiwi Air Force”?????? Care to elaborate on your comment?

  • Blind Monkey

    says:

    More to the point, why didn’t the ADF specify three crew instead of throwing millions of dollars of tax payers money down the drain trying to configure them for two crew operations? I’d say the Kiwi’s have had the last laugh, at Australia’s expense.

  • Raymond

    says:

    I realise that… my question was, what happened to the 11th? Is it still on the market? Would anyone want just a single airframe? Or is Kaman retaining it as a testbed or something?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      The Kiwi machines have had the troubled FCS removed and replaced with a simpler unit. As to why the RAN wanted a two-crew machine, that goes way back to when the Seasprites were expected to operate from a class of smaller offshore patrol vessels which never eventuated.
      Not sure about the eleventh – I’m sure Kaman will retain and store it in case the Kiwis, Egypt, or Poland require an attrition aircraft or additional capability.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Paul Douglas

    says:

    Our Seasprites also sport the Mavericks that used to be slung under ours & yours old A4’s, a Chopper with punch!

    We would welcome your Super Hornets for a bargain or at least the upgraded Classics, but think Gripen NG would be better in terms of operating costs and up to date technology- maybe 10 to 20 F35s in the future pipeline particularly the way the world is heading… Happy ANZAC day for Friday

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Australia never operated the Maverick on the A-4 or the Seasprite. We bought some Penguins for the Seasprites but these were never used and I think on-sold elsewhere.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Gerald Casimatis

    says:

    For its limited funding New Zealand unlike sometimes wasteful Australia, historically makes well informed purchasing decisions on defence spending. I would assume that NZ’s blend of helicopters with some rescue and naval strategic attack capabilities, UAV’s in the future and Orions are much more effective than a squadron of short range fighters wasting money at the far end of the world.
    It would be however much appreciated if NZ assisted Australia by buying us a handfull of real, ocean going, patrol boats like theirs to replace the tiny, cracking, worn out, calm water, illegal immigrant tugs we have been misusing in the wild Indian Ocean.

  • Paul Douglas

    says:

    Andrew I know the RAAF never operated the Maverick – I was referring to the A4”s NZ bought off the RAN then upgraded via Project Kahu with F16 Radar & similar weapons including Maverick.

    The Maverick was the cost effective A2G & Anti shipping weapon that was cheaper than the Harpoon, which probably wouldnt fit anyway.

    Gerald yes our OPV’s & IPV’s are nice boats. NH90s are a tad big for our Frigates hence more of the venerable Seasprites.

  • Raymond

    says:

    The new SH-2G(I) Seasprites will be armed with the Penguin, a far better missile than the Maverick. The Penguin is bigger and faster, has a warhead three times the size of the Maverick, twice the range, and is fire-and-forget. It can also perform non-direct flightpaths with selectable waypoint manoeuvres and strike the target close to the waterline, making it more difficult to counter.

    The RAAF won’t be offering Supers anytime soon… they will now be part of ACG longer term (c. 2030), consisting of an F/A-18F / EA-18G / F-35A mix. NZ acquiring F-35’s I somehow doubt! More chance of a repeat of the A-4 sale, with ex-Aussie classic Hornets flying with Kiwi roundels in any resurrected RNZAF air combat force. The Gripen NG would also appear to be a good fit and a possible contender should the will to be a credible air force again ever resurface. However, don’t forget that NZ had actually settled on the F-16 before that deal was cancelled, and knowing their keenness for a bargain, they could well be more conducive to any cheap F-16’s on offer.

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