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New Zealand contracts Boeing for Orion upgrade

Boeing has been contracted to upgrade the underwater intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capability of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3K2 Orions.

Wellington says in a statement that the contract is valued at NZ$36 million, and will replace ageing, less reliable systems on the Orions, allowing the country to re-instate its anti-submarine warfare capability.

“Knowing what is happening underwater is integral to monitoring submarine activity,” says New Zealand’s defence minister Gerry Brownlee.

“This is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific region which is home to two-thirds of the world’s submarines.”

Boeing has teamed with local companies Safe Air, Beca and Marops to provide through-life support for the acquisition.

The RNZAF’s Orions have been in service since 1966, with five aircraft originally delivered as P-3Bs, and subsequently upgraded in the 1980s to P-3K standard. A subsequent upgrade saw them designated as P-3K2s.

New Zealand’s defence ministry is working through options to replace the Orions, which are expected to retire from service in the mid-2020s.

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