Beyond the Orion adventure

The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s six venerable Lockheed P-3K2 Orions are approaching their twilight years after more than half a century of service. Jim Winchester looks at the long process to replace them.

RNZAF Maritime Patrol

P-3K2 NZ4203 at Whenuapai. The most visible change from the P-3K to the K2 is the replacement of the Boeing Infrared Detection System (IRDS) turret under the nose with the Wescam MX-20 electro-optical/infrared system.
Jim Winchester
The P-3K2 upgrade included a BAE Systems digital autopilot with new flight director, and a dual LN-100 GPS/inertial navigation system.

Aircraft and systems manufacturers from around the world have entered a wide range of platforms in New Zealand’s Future Air Surveillance Capability (FASC) competition. The winner will replace the Orion, the first of which – a P-3B – was delivered to No 5 Squadron at Whenuapai Air Base near Auckland in October 1966. Since then, Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Orions have flown more than 150,000 hours and countless miles around the Pacific and the rest of the world. Most recently, in February 2017, one P-3K2 and 55 personnel were deployed to the Middle East on anti-smuggling and anti-piracy duties with the Combined Maritime Force.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below