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.”
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.