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Air Force Strengthens Interests In Pacific

Press Release – New Zealand Defence Force

Pānui pāpāho/Media Release 29 o Hōngongoi 2009/29 July 2009

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Pānui pāpāho/Media Release
29 o Hōngongoi 2009/29 July 2009

Air Force Strengthens Strategic Interests In The Pacific

Over 100 Air Force personnel depart Ohakea Air Force Base on Friday aboard an Air Force Boeing 757 bound for Samoa. They will take part in Exercise TROPIC ASTRA 09 on the main Samoan island of Upolo from 29 July to 01 September 2009.
Exercise TROPIC ASTRA 09 is an annual Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) exercise designed to provide training in tropical flying operations, including civil tasking and aircrew survival training. These activities will train personnel for air and land operations to cover such events as disaster relief, humanitarian aid, search and rescue and aid to Pacific Island governments.
The first RNZAF elements arrived in Apia aboard HMNZS CANTERBURY on Tuesday including four Iroquois helicopters, 70 personnel, 15 containers, support vehicles and equipment. Squadron Leader David Brensell from the RNZAF Expeditionary Support Squadron (ESS) said the ship offload went smoothly and they have achieved 95% of their objectives so far.
TROPIC ASTRA 09 is also an excellent opportunity for No 3 Squadron (helicopters) and ESS personnel to operate in a tropical environment enabling personnel to build skills and experience. The mission of the RNZAF Expeditionary Support Squadron is to provide support to deployed RNZAF force elements for military air operations. ESS comprises the following elements:
• Air Communication & Information Systems (AIR CIS) are responsible for deployable communication and information systems,
• Air Movements are responsible for the provision of air terminal services,
• Air Security are responsible for the security of RNZAF assets and
• Deployed Bulk Fuel Installation (DBFI) is responsible for aviation fuel services.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Ms Caroline Bilkey, said the presence of No. 3 Squadron in Samoa also offers opportunities to conduct flying tasks for the Samoan Government, such as transporting personnel and heavy loads to locations that are difficult to access by road. “The New Zealand High Commission is working with the Samoan Government, donor agencies and NGOs to develop worthwhile proposals that will benefit communities in Samoa,” Ms Bilkey said.

ENDS

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