New Zealand retires first P-3K2 Orion

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) retired its first Lockheed P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft on September 24, after 55 years of operational service.

The aircraft - serial NZ4203 - conducted its final flight from RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai) at approximately 1040hrs (local time) and flew to RNZAF Base Woodbourne, where it will be dismantled. This was the first of six Orions to be retired by the RNZAF.

First RNZAF P-3K2 Orion retirement 24-09-21 [RNZAF]
Royal New Zealand Air Force-operated Lockheed P-3K2 Orion - serial NZ4203 - departs RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai) for the final time in its 55-year service with the force on September 24, 2021. This example was the first P-3K2 to be retired by the RNZAF, which is preparing to accept its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft next year. RNZAF

This specific aircraft was delivered to the RNZAF in January 1967 and by the time it was withdrawn from service, it had completed more than 27,000 flying hours in support of RNZAF deployments, exercises and operations across the world. 

The five remaining P-3K2s are operated by No 5 Squadron at RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai). One of the remaining airframes - serial NZ4201 - has been earmarked for preservation in the RNZAF Museum at Wigram.

New Zealand's Orion fleet will be replaced by four Boeing P-8A Poseidons, sourced through a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract, which was given US State Department approval on April 28, 2017. On March 30, 2020, Boeing was awarded an approximately US$1.55bn contract modification that covered the production of 18 Lot 11 P-8As. This included eight examples for the US Navy, four for the RNZAF and six for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). New Zealand's first Poseidon is due to be delivered in 2022.