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New Zealand air force begin to mark 75th anniversary

03-14-2012 16:00 BJT

WELLINGTON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's air force Wednesday began a series of events that will culminate in an international air show this month to mark its 75th anniversary.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman at a function in the New Zealand Parliament formally thanked the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) for its 75 years of service to the country.

"It has been 75 years of a job well done and worthy of recognition," said Coleman in a statement.

"The government respects the Air Force for the way in which it carries out these tasks, be it helping transport our soldiers on deployments, evacuating people and providing support in disaster zones, and on search and rescue missions.

"As we take stock of our Air Force at this anniversary there is reason to feel proud about its current capability with the new NH- 90s and A109s, the C130s undergoing life extension and the P3 Orions being upgraded," he said.

A unique stamp collection, a specially minted silver coin and an official history were released to mark the 75th year since the RNZAF was formed as a separate arm of New Zealand's military forces on April 1, 1937.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, said that throughout its history, the RNZAF had contributed to the maintenance of peace, either through allied contributions in wartime or through peacekeeping throughout the world.

"His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force has provided a personal video message acknowledging the talent and professionalism of those serving in the RNZAF and pays tribute to recent responses to natural disasters both in New Zealand and overseas," said Stockwell in a statement.

"To celebrate this significant milestone, a range of events and activities are taking place across New Zealand," said Stockwell.

New Zealand Post had developed a special stamp issue portraying the range of services and aircraft throughout the years, from Tiger Moths to the latest NH90 helicopters.

The stamps featured air operations in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, in Southeast Asia and the Antarctic, as well as many peacekeeping and humanitarian relief efforts, he said.

A commemorative coin that featured the image of a pilot and Skyhawk jets flying in a "missing man" formation would also be issued as a limited edition.

The book, "Fighting Spirit, 75 Years of the RNZAF," written by author Margaret McClure, had been commissioned to chronicle "the spirit, professionalism and resilience of all those who have served with the RNZAF." It detailed the birth, formation and transformation of the RNZAF to the present day.

Modern day aircraft from six nations are to join World War II vintage Mustangs and Spitfires at the 75th Anniversary Air Show at the Ohakea air force base on March 31.

Major international air forces including the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia, Republic of Singapore Air Force, the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps, are to join the RNZAF in flying and ground displays.

The RNZAF is modernizing its fleet of aircraft. Last week, the first of nine new European-made NH90 helicopters entered operations.

The new or upgraded capabilities include a modified Boeing 757 fleet, upgraded C-130 and P-3K2 aircraft, a new A-109 training and a light utility helicopter fleet.

The RNZAF has a training squadron and four operational squadrons that are regularly deployed in the South Pacific, Australia and Southeast Asia and are often involved in search and rescue and maritime surveillance operations.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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