A Defence Force Hercules aircraft is on its way to Europe to help transport donated military aid to Ukraine.

An RNZAF Hercules departs for Europe.An RNZAF Hercules departs for Europe. (Supplied: RNZAF)

The Hercules, which is carrying 9 personnel, left Auckland’s Whenuapai airbase on Wednesday morning.

It will join a chain of military aircraft from partner nations that will first land in the UK to prepare for its mission carrying equipment to distribution centres in European countries, which is due to begin next week.

This distribution is being coordinated by an international coordination centre in Stuttgart, Germany.

Forces won’t be entering Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia nearly two months ago.

A three-person advance party is currently in the UK, where they are facilitating the arrival of the aircraft and assimilation of personnel into the Stuttgart coordination centre, before themselves travelling there later this week.

A consignment of helmets, body armour, radios and other equipment has already been flown by military aircraft to Europe and delivered to Ukraine.

This latest deployment is on top of NZDF intelligence staff that have already been sent to the UK.

As well as this, an officer is also being deployed to the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters, and a liaison officer will be working at a NATO headquarters in Belgium.

“We should never underestimate the value we can provide to partners with the contribution of a cargo aircraft and a team of professional, highly motivated service personnel,” says Andy Scott, Group Captain of Base Commander Auckland.

“In situations like this airlift, logistics support and intelligence analysts are always key enablers and we are proud to be able to help.”