Royal New Zealand Air Force retires P-3K2 Orion aircraft

by Tim Fish

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft is pictured at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai on 24 January. The service's fleet of three P-3K2s is being retired at the end of January following 57 years of service. (Tim Fish)

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will retire the last three of its P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) at the end of January 2023 after 57 years of service.

At RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai on 24 January, No 5 Squadron, which operates and maintains the aircraft, completed a final flypast of the three aircraft in formation. Two of the aircraft will then fly to RNZAF Base Woodbourne where the fleet is being put into storage.

The decommissioning of the last three P-3K2 Orions from the original fleet of six aircraft is taking place about six months early, before the replacement fleet of four P-8A Orion MPAs has been stood up for operations at No 5 Squadron's new home at RNZAF Base Ohakea.

Wing Commander Glen Donaldson told Janes


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DARPA selects General Atomics and Aurora Flight Sciences to design wing-in-ground effect lifters

by Zach Rosenberg

Aurora Flight Sciences' Liberty Lifter concept. (Aurora Flight Sciences)

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 1 February selected two companies to design wing-in-ground effect (WIG) concepts for Phase 1 of the Liberty Lifter programme.

The 18-month contract is intended to advance designs from both General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Aurora Flight Sciences through preliminary design review (PDR), plus an additional three months for presentation and manufacturing planning.

The Liberty Lifter is intended to result in designs capable of flying 6,500 n mile with six standard cargo containers or two US Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Assault Vehicles, handling waves up to 13 ft high (Sea State 5) and flying up to a 10,000 ft altitude.

“The two teams have taken distinctly different design approaches that will enable us to explore a relatively large design space during Phase 1,” said Christopher Kent, DARPA programme manager.


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Swiss Air Force receives first two Hermes 900 UAVs

by Gareth Jennings

The Swiss Air Force is flying operational testing sorties on two of its planned six Elbit Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft. (Armasuisse)

The Swiss Air Force has received the first two of six Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were ordered under the Reconnaissance Drone System 15 (ADS 15) requirement.

The Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport (VBS) announced the milestone on 30 January, approximately nine months after Israel delivered the aircraft to the Swiss Federal Office for Armaments (Armasuisse) for in-country flight trials.

“The military aviation authority has issued the necessary certification. This means that the air force can now start building up the operational capabilities for the ADS 15 reconnaissance drone system,” the VBS said.


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Aeralis, AirTanker sign MOU to explore future training opportunities

by Gareth Jennings

The latest concept art of the Aeralis modular jet, released to mark the signing of an MOU with AirTanker. (Aeralis)

Aeralis and AirTanker have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore future flying training and air combat support opportunities.

Announced on 30 January, the MOU will see the two UK-based companies identify and assess upcoming contracts in military flying training, defence operational training, and combat air support roles for the modular jet aircraft being developed by Aeralis.

“The MOU covers a range of services that AirTanker can offer, such as collaboration with overseas partners and establishing local service provision. The MOU will involve the sharing of information and regular progress updates, as well as joint workshops to explore future collaboration opportunities. The agreement aims to use the Aeralis programme to achieve significantly lower financing, acquisition, and operating costs for aircraft compared to incumbents, paving the way for enabling a wide range of ‘on-demand' operational air support services as part of the future of air force fleets,” the announcement said.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/royal-new-zealand-air-force-retires-p-3k2-orion-aircraft

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will retire the last three of its P-3K2 Orion maritime patro...

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