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.