skip to main content

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

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 that there have been personnel issues because of attrition across the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), which meant difficult choices have had to be made.

“We need to make sure our aircraft are being maintained appropriately and safely. So when we start losing some of our key experienced technicians we have to make sure we can backfill that,” he said.

“There were different choices that were looked at, but it made sense to retire the P-3K2 early and take the maintenance staff from No 5 Squadron to backfill all the other areas to ensure that we still had the C-130H, Seasprite, Boeing 757, and NH90 operations,” Wg Cdr Donaldson said.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...