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New Zealand Signs $127M Beechcraft Military Deal

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Royal New Zealand Navy warship, HMNZS Te Mana arrives in Sydney Harbour, on October 4, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.  (credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Royal New Zealand Navy warship, HMNZS Te Mana arrives in Sydney Harbour, on October 4, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand has signed a $127 million contract with Wichita, Kan.-based Beechcraft Corp. for military pilot training.

Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman said Monday that the contract includes 11 Beechcraft T-6C turboprop planes as well as ground simulators and training systems that will be implemented in classrooms and on computers.

Trainee pilots will begin using the new system in 2016.

New Zealand has a defense force of about 14,000. It stationed a small number of troops in Afghanistan for a decade before withdrawing them last year.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Colin Crosby says the announcement is great news for New Zealand’s Air Force and good news for U.S. business.

New Zealand military pilots are currently trained on systems provided by Pacific Aerospace and Beechcraft that the government considers outdated.

(© Copyright 2014 4he Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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