New Zealand defence force buys 8 Kaman choppers

WELLINGTON (AP) - New Zealand's defence force says it will buy eight retrofitted Seasprite helicopters from Connecticut-based aerospace manufacturer Kaman.

The helicopters came at a steep discount of NZ$242 million (S$253 million) after an Australian deal fell apart. The Australian defence force cancelled a US$1 billion (S$1.23 billion) contract for 11 of the craft because they didn't have the capability to be flown hands-free.

New Zealand's defence force said in an announcement on Friday it didn't have the same requirement.

It bought the helicopters to upgrade and expand its current fleet. The deal also includes two spare helicopter frames, a training simulator and anti-ship Penguin missiles.

The helicopters will operate from New Zealand Navy vessels.