Our Role

It is our job to serve New Zealand from the skies. To do this we have a fleet of diverse aircraft, ready to take to the air at a moment’s notice. By the very nature of the fact that our role is predominantly airborne, careers with us invariably involve working with complex, cutting-edge technology.

The Air Force is part of the New Zealand Defence Force – a Force for New Zealand – and works closely with the Navy and Army as well as other Government and non-government agencies.

The Air Force is primarily responsible for:

  • Transportation and logistics
  • Maritime surveillance
  • Search and Rescue
  • Disaster Relief
  • Peacekeeping
  • Civil Assistance
  • Antarctic Support


We are involved in many different types of operations. In New Zealand, our P3K Orions and NH-90 helicopters are on standby 24-7 to conduct search and rescue operations. Or we might be called upon to fly in supplies after a natural disaster, be it floods, storms or earthquakes.

Our aircraft support the Navy in patrolling the waters, guarding against drug, piracy and terror threats, as well as illegal fishing. We support our colleagues in the Army too, helping them move personnel and equipment. Our NH-90 helicopters also help the police to prevent criminal activities.

From Antarctica to Sudan, Timor-Leste to South Korea, our expertise is called upon across the world, supporting the UN and our allies on a wide variety of missions. Currently, we’re serving 18 peacekeeping operations.



Aircraft are the fastest method of transport available and can go where other vehicles can’t. If a road is blocked it makes no difference to us. What’s more, aircraft can carry large amounts of both people and supplies.

These are just some of the reasons why our fleet can make a crucial difference in a wide range of situations, both in New Zealand and overseas.

Below are some of the life-saving and world-changing opportunities that you may experience as a member of the Air Force.


We are regularly involved in Defence Force operations overseas. From Antarctica to Sudan, Timor-Leste to South Korea, our personnel play a crucial role in helping people and countries rebuild after conflict and natural disasters.


From snow-capped mountains to stormy oceans, the Air Force can provide fast emergency assistance. It might not just be people that we help either. In extreme weather conditions, we can transport supplies to stranded animals too.


Our P3K patrols our waters and helps prevent illegal fishing and preserve marine stocks.


Our NH-90 helicopters regularly support the police. Protecting New Zealand from criminal activity is a shared responsibility. We also assist the Army, moving personnel and equipment and assisting with parachute training.