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NZDF gears up for Antarctica season

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/10/2016

As many as 220 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) staff will be part of this year's summer season in Antarctica.

They include air and ground crew, army engineers, cargo handlers and communications specialists.

On Thursday, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 flew 81 scientific and support personnel and about three tonnes of baggage and equipment to support the New Zealand and US Antarctic research programmes at the Scott Base and McMurdo stations.

It was the NZDF's first support flight to the continent for the 2016-17 summer season.

Two more RNZAF Boeing flights are scheduled before the end of October, and from late November the C-130 Hercules, the workhorses of the RNZAF, swing into action.

"Every year, our aircraft support the Antarctic research programmes by bringing about 330 scientists and other personnel and almost 40 tonnes of equipment needed to carry out vital research on the continent," says Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.

This season is the 60th of New Zealand's operations in Antarctica and the NZDF has been involved for 51 years.

The NZDF also provides search and rescue support, air transport, terminal operations at Harewood Terminal in Christchurch and McMurdo, and support for the unloading of the annual container ship.

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