A ceremony marking the change of command of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 3 Squadron, which will operate the force's new NH90 and A109 helicopters, took place at the RNZAF Base in Ohakea today.

The change of command parade also marked the integration of the Helicopter Transition Unit into 3 Squadron, bringing the entire helicopter force together under the 3 Squadron banner.

Air Force chief Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley said the integration comes as the new aircraft develop new capabilities.

"The NH90 will now become responsible for search and rescue missions, casualty evacuation in association with search and rescue, as well as transport for NZ police and other government and military personnel for national security requirements," he said.

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"The Iroquois have performed these tasks well for many years, but it is now time for the NH90 to become the primary aircraft for search and rescue and national security requirements.

"While we still have some way to go, the NH90 and A109 capabilities are developing well, and are on track to be capable of undertaking all tasks currently performed by the Iroquois by the middle of next year."

This year the A109 was used in initial helicopter pilot and helicopter crewman training for the first time.