Missile fired from helicopter right on target

By Isaac Davison

The Navy and Air Force have teamed up for a night launch of a live missile at a sea-based target.

These pictures, taken through night vision goggles, show a naval Seasprite helicopter launching an air-to-surface AGM65 Maverick missile, pictured left and centre. It then returns to the frigate Te Mana, pictured far right. An Air Force P3 Orion was also involved in the exercise east of Great Barrier Island. A safety trace was used to ensure there were no ships or aircraft in the missile's range.

Missile tests are carried out regularly to test Defence Force equipment and train the armed forces.

Maritime Component commander Commodore Tony Parr said the test was a good example of aircrew and sailors working together in testing the Defence Force's capabilities.

"Regular weapons firings are part of our development and maintenance of operational capability.

Exercises like the one this week allow air and ground crews to practise preparation, loading and firing procedures as well as the handling of live forward firing ordnance on our ships.

"Hopefully we'll never have to use these missiles in anger. But it increases confidence in our ability to handle a live weapon and our competence in doing it day or night from a moving platform."

Te Mana's commanding officer, Commander Blair Gerritsen, said the successful test confirmed the capability of the missiles when fired at night.

"The firing went very smoothly with the missile performing exactly as expected on launch through to the destruction of the target.

"The night firing has completed the process of proving the air-surface missile's performance, which is a valuable element of the broader Anzac frigate's capabilities."

Commodore Parr said the Maverick missile was introduced into service seven years ago by the Defence Force but was not fired against either maritime or land targets from a Seasprite helicopter until last year. The exercise last week was the Defence Force's first night test of a Maverick missile.

- NZ Herald

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